Building Code update consultation — Transition period end date for lead in plumbing product provisions

Submissions closed: 23 April 2024, 5pm

This consultation proposes to extend the transition period end dates for both the lead and dezincification plumbing product provisions in New Zealand to realign with the transition period end date in Australia, to 1 May 2026.

New building work is regulated through the Building Code. MBIE consults on, and updates, the Building Code documents to ensure they keep pace with modern methods of construction, products and technologies. A high-performing system is critical to ensure people are safe and healthy, and living in durable homes and buildings.

The most recent Building Code update consultation included a proposal to further reduce the allowable amount of lead in plumbing products which was met with an overwhelmingly positive response.

When these changes were consulted on and announced, the lead in plumbing products transition period end date of 1 September 2025 was in alignment with the introduction of equivalent lead-free plumbing product changes in Australia. However, in April 2023, Australia extended their transition period end date by 8 months, to 1 May 2026.

When we published the updated Building Code documents in November 2023, we confirmed the announced transition period end date would remain. However, where possible we strive to align with our major trading partners to ensure a healthy and competitive New Zealand market. Feedback from the sector also highlighted the need to consider an extension to provide plumbing product manufacturers and suppliers additional time to make the necessary changes.

This consultation proposes to extend the transition period end dates for both the lead and dezincification plumbing product provisions in New Zealand to realign with the transition period end date in Australia, to 1 May 2026.

Aligning both the lead content and dezincification resistant copper alloy water supply product provisions aims to provide clear and consistent transition period end date timeframes for the sector, especially for those that need to adapt the types of copper alloys used to manufacture plumbing products.

We are also taking this opportunity to propose a definition of the term ‘lead free’ to improve clarity regarding the identification of products that meet the requirements of the new lead in plumbing product provision, and to make several minor editorial changes to the Building Code documents for water supplies.

Lead in plumbing products changes timeline

In May 2022, MBIE consulted on various updates to building code documents, including proposals to limit lead in plumbing products. This consultation closed in July 2022 and received over 100 detailed submissions and comments.

In November 2022, we announced the decision to reduce the amount of lead contained in plumbing products with an extended transition date of 1 September 2025, and published a submission summary to provide context on the decisions made.

In November 2023, we published the revised building code documents and re-confirmed the existing transition period of September 2025 for the lead in plumbing product provision would remain, at the end of this transition period, the previous versions of the documents can no longer be used.

Our aim of announcing the decisions and publishing the revised Building Code documents in advance of the extended transition date was to provide certainty and direction to the sector, to give manufacturers, suppliers and installers time to comply with the new requirements, and to prepare information and education to support the sector and public with the changes.

MBIE has amended the acceptable solutions and verification methods to support plumbing work in New Zealand. These changes are the latest in a series of continuous improvements to ensure the Building Code compliance pathways for the plumbing sector are fit for purpose, are up to date to help New Zealanders have safe and reliable plumbing systems and to meet the safety and wellbeing objectives in the Building Act 2004.

Other information

Original consultation documents regarding the Building code update

Announcement of the Building Code decisions

Summary of submissions:

Outcome of consultation Building Code update 2022: Lead in plumbing products — Decisions for amending acceptable solution G12/AS1 [PDF 570KB](external link)

The revised Building Code documents are at the link below:

G12 Water supplies(external link) — Building performance website

Original feedback to proposals for lead in plumbing product changes

There were 40 submissions on the proposal for lead in plumbing products. Over 90% of these submissions supported the proposal to further reduce the allowable lead content for some plumbing products by 2025.

These submissions supported the potential health benefits of the proposed change and highlighted the need for education for the sector on the changes before they are introduced.

When asked about the suggested transition end date of 1 September 2025 or sooner, 86% were in favour. The submissions highlighted that the longer transition period was necessary to raise awareness of the proposed changes and to give time to manufacturers to comply with the proposed requirements.

Due to the overwhelmingly positive response, we decided to proceed with the proposed changes to Acceptable Solution G12/AS1, limiting the maximum quantity of lead in plumbing products and the proposed transition period ending on 1 September 2025.

As the transition period currently extends to 2025, the revised Acceptable Solution was published in alignment with the rest of the plumbing and drainage updates in November 2023.