Over the last 12 months, HERA have worked closely with SCNZ and MBIE to update steel industry standards referenced in the Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods (B1/VM1) of the New Zealand Building Code.

These amendments to B1/VM1 relate to minimum standards for fabrication and erection; structural steel products and expanding the choice of high strength structural bolts. The three month transition period will result in the amendments coming into force on 3 July 2018.

An update was needed!

The 1997 version of the steel structures standard NZS 3404.1 is the primary reference document in the New Zealand Building Code (NZBC), but is over 20-year’s old. Many of its normative references to structural steel and fastener product standards are outdated, and to compound matters the publication of the fabrication and erection standard AS/NZS 5131 created some ambiguity. This was because it provided rules also considered by Section 14, 15, 16 and 18 and Appendix C, D, K and L of NZS 3404.1: 1997.

Rather than engage in the long process of revising NZS 3404.1, work was undertaken to replace sections of this standard through an amendment of B1/VM1 instead.

These proposed amendments were put out for consultation by MBIE in September 2017, and were driven as part of their response to investigations into the performance of the Statistics House and Canterbury earthquakes.

At HERA, we believe this is a step in the right direction to ensure B1/VM1 remains relevant to the steel industry. It’ll also work towards removing some of the doubt currently existing around NZS 3404.1: 1997 and its reference to outdated standards.


Significant changes include:

  • AS/NZS 5131 will replace NZS 3404.1 as the cited standard for fabrication and erection of structural steelwork.
  • The inclusion of the latest AS/NZS structural steel material and welding standards, specifically:
    • 2016 version of AS/NZS 1163, AS/NZS 3678, AS/NZS 3679.1 and AS/NZS 3679.2 together with the 2002 version of AS/NZS 1594.
    • 2014 version of AS/NZS 1554.1
  • The inclusion of the European standard for high strength structural bolts to expand user choice and prepare industry for the bolt standard AS/NZS 1252 being replaced in the future. As a consequence, fasteners to the following standards can be used:
    • 2015 version of BS EN 14399-1, BS EN 14399-2, BS EN 14399-3 and BS EN 14399-5.


Looking at the bigger picture, these changes to conformity requirements will also encourage improvements to the quality of steel products being used in New Zealand’s built environment. Ensuring design assumptions made by relevant design standards remain valid.

We also feel the reference to the new Structural Steelwork Fabrication and Erection Standard AS/NZS 5131, is of particular relevance. As it not only defines best practice for national projects, but forms the basis for the Steel Fabricators Certification (SFC) Scheme we jointly introduced with SCNZ in 2014.


What does this mean for you?

From 3 April 2018 building consent and territorial authorities must take these changes into account when deciding whether a building consent application applies with the building code.

If you’re involved in this part of a projects life cycle, make sure you’re well versed in the updates to design and construction requirements B1/VM1 Amendment 16.

It’s also important to note that an exception has been made regarding the use of cast iron anchors and couplers, which will continue to be compliant under B1/VM1 Amendment 16 until 1 November 2018.

Update shared by our General Manager Structural Systems Dr Stephen Hicks