The ITA – An Ambitious Approach to a Better Built New Zealand

February 23, 2018

The ITA – where fire engineers start to collaborate

In a time of extraordinary growth and unprecedented opportunity, New Zealand’s building and construction industry has agreed that piecemeal, fragmented and incremental innovation cannot bring about the ambitious and meaningful change required for the sector. Early in 2017, BRANZ initiated the Industry Transformation Agenda (ITA), with a view to tackling industry issues such as skills shortages, boom and bust cycles and procurement issues and creating a better built environment for New Zealand. Based on a global transformation agenda for the construction sector by the World Economic Forum, the ITA in New Zealand is a strategic collaboration inviting all industry players to participate in a practical, sustainable and transformative approach to our building and construction industry.

As one industry player Michael James talks about starting out.

“On 7 February 2018 I attended an ITA seminar where Dr Scott Champion talked of his part in the transformation of the primary industries sector (beef and lamb) from a ragbag of multiple competing players to a cohesive group focused on improved quality and profits for all. Dr Champion offered important insights for us all – especially around co-operation and collaboration. He warned us that the hardest part about starting out to transform a sector is actually getting started, and promised that once we start reaching across the boundaries of single organisations, addressing the real issues and seizing the opportunities the ‘the fog will lift’.

One of the issues those attending the seminar agreed needs addressing in Auckland is affordable housing. Certainly there are a lot of homes being built, there is still a significant shortage of housing in the $400k to $450k range. The construction sector is geared to building in the $600k plus market which is reaching saturation point. To build quality family homes at the lower price point, while realising acceptable profit margins, requires inventive design, innovative materials and intelligent construction methodologies.

So – how do we as fire engineers support the drive for lower cost quality housing?

Traditionally fire engineers are engaged, once the design is complete, to demonstrate compliance with the Building Code. This leaves us with little or no scope to add value to the project and can often mean delays to the project and added costs. Seeking compliance, along with our expertise, much earlier in a project makes so much more sense. Engaging early in a project means we can add value in terms of reducing the overall construction costs without sacrificing safety.

Here are just some of the opportunities:

  1. Avoid unnecessary fire rating by siting the building optimally on the property.
  2. Optimise first up cost construction cost and construction time by discussing fire rated construction materials.
  3. Avoid expensive passive fire rating costs by discussing the internal building layout, particularly bathrooms.
  4. Avoid expensive variations to the contract by ‎reviewing the architectural design to make sure all the necessary fire rated elements are included in the base tender price from the outset.
  5. Avoid costly rework due to mistakes during construction by designing passive fire protection during the design phase.

From the outset is where fire engineers can ideally start to collaborate. Origin fire engineers enjoy the opportunities to discuss projects with architects, builders, developers and suppliers and contribute to more robust and cost effective designs. I think we all agree that to build quality family homes at lower price points, while realising acceptable profit margins requires inventive design, innovative materials and intelligent construction methodologies.

It is our hope that we be brought into the design process as collaborators as close to the outset as possible and that this becomes industry-wide best practice.”

– Michael James