The project to review the foremost Standard in New Zealand for the building and construction industry, Timber-framed buildings, NZS 3604:1999, is well underway. The release of the draft revised Standard for public comment is planned for December 2009. Publication is scheduled for late 2010/early 2011.
Many different stakeholders are involved in the NZS 3604 review process and a leadership group of senior people in the building industry, from all relevant industry sectors, is maintaining an overview of the entire review process.
'We've received a lot of positive feedback on the communications issued about the review of NZS 3604,' says Derek Baxter, Chair of the leadership group. 'This feedback is appreciated and has been collated by Standards New Zealand and then considered by the technical committee and work groups.'
A technical committee of 22 industry representatives has developed the draft revised NZS 3604. Don Bunting, Chair of the technical committee, says, 'Our technical committee members were nominated for their expertise in areas directly related to the revision of NZS 3604. Working in five section-specific work groups, the technical committee has shown major commitment and put in a lot of work to review the Standard.'
The technical committee is now working towards reaching consensus on the draft revisions to NZS 3604 so it can be issued for public comment in December 2009. 'The public comment period will be a good opportunity for users to have their say about the revised Standard,' says Don.
Work group processes – heading for consensus
The technical committee and five section specific NZS 3604 work groups follow an agreed Standards development process and set parameters for how they will deal with any issues that arise as they review the Standard. The primary role of the five work groups is to debate key issues surrounding the revision of NZS 3604, reach consensus, and develop recommendations for changes. The recommendations are then put to the technical committee for discussion and a final decision on each recommendation.
As Don Bunting, a veteran of many Standards committees says, this can be a particularly challenging process. 'There's no doubt about it – some issues can be controversial. At times, the committee and work group members must feel it'll be almost impossible for them to reach a consensus-based decision, but they always do.' Cas Cinque, Standards New Zealand's General Manager Solutions agrees: 'historically there have been occasions where a development committee or work group has struggled to reach consensus on a particular issue – our project managers follow a sound process to encourage debate to help remove any barriers to reaching consensus.'
Many of the NZS 3604 committee and work group members have commented that Standards New Zealand's development processes allow for robust discussion – this encourages and allows all committee members to have their say and the outcome is always a consensus-based decision. Research Standards New Zealand has undertaken over the years shows that although not all committee members have had their recommendations approved, they have, virtually without exception, drawn satisfaction from the fact that their views were fairly heard and debated by a group of their peers.
Some of the key enablers being applied to enhance the decision process during NZS 3604's development process include:
- the proposed changes should be based on sound research and minimise cost wherever possible
- the document should be kept as user friendly as possible
- a strong and united belief that it is critical that NZS 3604 is cited in its entirety in the New Zealand Building Code as an acceptable solution, not requiring specific design.
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