Building Code decisions made on lead in plumbing products and hollow-core flooring to improve the health and safety of New Zealanders

Published: 15 November 2022

Following consultation earlier this year on proposed changes to the Building Code, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has today announced decisions on lead in new plumbing products and hollow-core flooring systems.

Feedback from the consultation has shown a clear mandate to change the requirements for new plumbing products containing lead, and strong sector support to remove compliance pathways for new hollow-core flooring systems, Dr Dave Gittings, Manager Building Performance and Engineering says.

“The consultation received over 100 detailed submissions and comments and this feedback has been used to inform the decisions announced today. As part of the consultation we asked whether the maximum allowable lead content for plumbing products that come into contact with potable water should be reduced to a weighted average of 0.25%, in alignment with requirements in Australia.

“There was overwhelming sector support for the proposal, with over 90% of submissions responding in support of the potential health benefits of the proposed change and therefore this change has been confirmed.

“This change to the acceptable solution for new plumbing products in the Building Code will take effect from September 2025, to allow for time to raise awareness of the changes and provide manufacturers time to comply with the requirements”.

A proposal to remove the deemed to comply pathway in the Building Code for new hollow-core flooring systems was also consulted on and received significant sector support.

“The proposal was made as a result of recent research which indicated that these floor systems behave poorly in seismic events,” says Dr Gittings.

“92% of submitters supported removing the compliance pathway for new hollow-core floor systems and this change will take effect when MBIE publishes the revised verification method in November 2023.

“There has been a downward trend in the use of hollow-core floor systems following the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake. Removing this compliance pathway will minimise the chance of poorly designed flooring systems being specified in new building work, improving the safety and quality of our future buildings.”

MBIE will now continue to work through the submissions from respondents on the proposed changes to protection from fire, and the other plumbing and drainage proposals to ensure all points of view and feedback are considered.

“Decisions on the remaining proposals will be announced prior to publishing the documents to ensure the sector and public are given as much notice of pending change as possible,” says Dr Gittings.

“Changes to the Building Code acceptable solutions and verification methods will be published in November 2023, with all except the hollow-core floor system changes having a transition period of at least 12 months.

“The Building Code updates and consultations are key factors in keeping the building system up to date as our knowledge and understanding expands in this modern and ever-changing building environment.

“MBIE is committed to updating the Building Code so that it keeps pace with innovation, current construction methods and the needs of modern society.”

Outcome of consultation Building Code update 2022: Lead in plumbing products [PDF 520KB](external link)

Outcome of consultation Building Code update 2022: Structural stability of hollow-core floors [PDF 567KB](external link)

More information on the 2022 Building Code update(external link) — Building Performance website.

MBIE media contact