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What the COVID-19 Level 4 alert means for the Building and Construction sector

As you will be aware, The Prime Minister has announced New Zealand is now at COVID-19 Alert Level 3, moving to Alert Level 4 from 11.59 pm on Wednesday 25 March for a period of four weeks.

This means New Zealanders not working in essential services must stay at home and stop all interactions with others outside of your household.

We understand this is a very unsettling time for everyone, and appreciate you will have questions and concerns about what this means for you and the building and construction sector.

Please visit the New Zealand Government's Covid-19 website for information relating to COVID-19. This website is being updated regularly and is your best chance of finding answers to your questions. Go to official Building Performance website to read more here

Essential Business in the Building and Construction sector

The information below provides answers to questions you may have about essential business for building and construction sector (as at 24 March).

This is a very fast-moving situation with information being updated regularly. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Q: What is an essential service/business

The covid19 website has the latest definition. For building and construction sector it means:

The current definition of an essential business for the building and construction sector from the COVID-19 Website is:

  • Any entity involved in building and construction related to essential services and critical infrastructure
  • Any entity involved in building and construction required immediately to maintain human health and safety at home or work
  • Any entity that performs or is involved in building and resource consenting necessary for the above purposes.

To further clarify this definition, an essential business is:

  • Any entity or occupation involved in the supply of electricity, gas, water, waste water (sanitation), or
  • Any entity or occupation involved in building and construction required immediately to maintain human health and safety at home or work
  • Any entity that has regulatory responsibilities in relation to building consenting and compliance and resource consenting necessary for the above purposes.

Note: most building work required urgently for the purposes of maintaining human health and safety will not require a consent.

Please check the Government's official Covid-19 website as this may change:

Information for industry

Q: What can I do as a tradesperson (eg plumber, electrician, carpenter)

Under a level 4 alert, only trades people undertaking work related to essential business or infrastructure are expected to be working outside of the self-isolation protocol. The exception to this may be where tradespeople are required to undertake emergency work where the need is immediate and required to maintain human health and safety. Situations might include:

  • The repair or replacement of a failed hot water cylinder required for sanitation purposes
  • The unblocking and repair or replacement of sanitary waste or water supply pipes to maintain human health and safety
  • The repair or replacement of electrical installations or equipment where there is an immediate threat to the human health and safety
  • The securing of roof or structure where there is an immediate threat to human health and safety

Examples of non-emergency work would be:

  • Finishing the lining of a client's house
  • Pouring a concrete slab to get ahead while the country is in lockdown
  • Replacing tap washers
  • Routine servicing of non-essential equipment or infrastructure
  • Replacement of sanitary fixtures that are working

Q: I am currently working on a building site. What can I do to secure or close a building site or waterproof it?

During Alert level 4, the only building and construction work permitted is that work which is required to ensure that the building site does not pose an immediate life or health safety risk or that is required for essential services or infrastructure. It is expected that, during Alert level 3, building sites will be closed down, as they would for a weekend or holiday break period.

Q: What if something happens subsequently to the site?

Emergency work where the need is immediate and required to maintain human health and safety is permitted.

Q: Can I carry on completing a nearly finished building e.g. residential building, commercial building?

Only if the building is currently occupied by or required for an essential service/business, or where the need is immediate and required to maintain human health and safety.

Q: What does 'required immediately' mean in regards to a building site?

Only if the building is currently occupied by or required for an essential service/business, or required for maintaining human health and safety.

Information for Councils

Q: What Territorial Authority (TA) and building consent authority (BCA) functions are essential services?

Any work that contributes to ensuring work for or to buildings providing an essential service.

Any work that contributes to ensuring building and construction work that is required to maintain human health and safety at home or work.

With regard to “business as usual” work that a BCA or TA undertakes, we suggest that this is continued to the extent that it can be under Level 4 restrictions. For example, BCOs can continue to process consents if they can do so from home.

Q: As a BCA, what will happen to my accreditation if I go over statutory timeframes for consenting?

We would like to reassure the BCA’s that if consenting time-frames slip during this period of shut down their accreditation will not be effected. MBIE will continue to monitor the situation, and consider the impacts of COVID-19 – including the sector's ability to respond to the changes.

Q: Do inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures of a compliance schedule for the purposes of obtaining a building warrant of fitness need to be carried out?

The need for these procedures to continue is dependent on the system's contribution to health and life safety of building occupants. It is essential that life safety systems in occupied buildings and buildings providing an essential service remain operational. Any maintenance, repair work or testing that must be carried out in order for these systems to remain operational should be carried out. It is likely that some scheduled monthly inspections for actively monitored systems (eg monitored warning systems and sprinkler systems) may be able to be delayed at this stage.

Q: Should we respond to defect notifications, activations and urgent service/repair requirements of fire safety systems?

Yes, if the failure to carry out the work would mean that the system is no longer able to protect the lives of building occupants.

Note: most building work required urgently for the purposes of maintaining human health and safety will not require a consent Please check the website as this may change: https://covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/covid-19-alert-level/#essential-businesses

Additional information

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