With the recent earthquake in Kaikoura and the damage to buildings in Wellington there was a lot of media debate around the appropriateness of our standards. Thankfully with the improvements since the Christchurch earthquake NZS3101, our main concrete design code, is as current as it could possibly be. Earthquakes don’t read codes and the effects in Wellington from the recent quake were beyond the current code earthquake. These quakes are giving us the opportunity to see how the code design works in real earthquakes and update where appropriate.
So NZS3101 is current but this cannot be said for many of our other codes in the concrete space. We have standards that are very old. NZS3114 on the finishes to concrete is from 1987. We have recently seen with the issues around mesh what impact poor out of date standards can cause. The problem being that any changes have to be funded by industry which generally means they are not updated. The Government stepped out of standards and this action is coming back to haunt us with a raft of standards in need of updating.
We have all seen the slow degradation of infrastructure caused by lack of investment over many years. Particularly in the US this is a major headache. This is what we have with our standards. Its effectively a serious train crash at very slow speed. You don’t notice for years until you wake up one day to see litigation through the industry and fights over quality.
Times are good in the construction industry as they are in the Government coffers and we must use this boom to gain the funding to ensure that our standards are brought up to date. From a company involved in concrete finish and tolerances we’d suggest a good start would be with NZS3114:1987.