Building Facade Safety: A Guide to Maintenance and BWOF Compliance Schedules

In the realm of property ownership in New Zealand, one crucial aspect that should never be overlooked is the importance of regular building maintenance. This not only ensures the safety and longevity of the property but is also a requirement under New Zealand building regulations. This article dives into these regulations and what constitutes regular maintenance in New Zealand.

What the Law Says

According to the Building Act 2004, building owners in New Zealand must maintain their properties to keep them safe and sanitary. The Act mandates that all buildings and associated systems perform as initially intended throughout their lifespan. This regulation indirectly emphasises the necessity for regular maintenance to ensure compliance with the Building Code and guarantee the safety and health of building inhabitants.

Role of Compliance Schedules

A noteworthy aspect of New Zealand’s building regulations is the Compliance Schedule. This document outlines specific systems within a building, such as lifts, air conditioning systems, and emergency lighting, that require regular inspection and maintenance. The Compliance Schedule serves as a roadmap for building owners, helping them understand what parts of their building need regular attention and upkeep.

Defining ‘Regular’ in Regular Maintenance

While the term ‘regular maintenance’ may seem vague, it essentially refers to the periodic checks and upkeep required to keep a building and its systems in optimal condition. This could range from daily cleaning and weekly checks of building systems to annual inspections and repairs as necessary. The specifics of ‘regular maintenance’ may vary based on the type and use of the building, its age, environmental factors, and the systems installed within the building.

Why Regular Maintenance is Key

Regular maintenance is about more than just meeting legal requirements. It plays a vital role in maintaining the structural integrity of the building, ensuring its aesthetic appeal, enhancing its energy efficiency, and preserving its property value. These factors make regular maintenance a wise investment for all building owners.

Every building owner must understand and adhere to New Zealand’s building regulations regarding regular maintenance. Regular maintenance plays a critical role in ensuring the safety, functionality, and longevity of a building, making it a non-negotiable aspect of responsible property ownership.

With the right knowledge and commitment to regular upkeep, building owners can ensure their properties remain an asset rather than becoming a liability. Remember, a well-maintained building is not just a legal requirement but a testament to good stewardship and a symbol of pride.

Regular maintenance of building facades is more than just an aesthetic concern. It plays a crucial role in preserving a building’s structural integrity, safety, and value. Regular checks and maintenance can prevent minor issues from escalating into costly repairs and potential hazards. It’s an essential practice that every building owner should prioritise.

Preserving Structural Integrity

The facade is the first line of defence against environmental elements. It shields the building from rain, wind, snow, and harsh sun rays. Over time, these environmental factors can cause wear and tear on the facade. Without regular maintenance, this can lead to structural damage. Cracks may form, allowing water to seep into the building and cause further internal and external damage. Regular inspection helps detect such issues early and maintenance can be undertaken before the issues escalate.

Ensuring Safety

A well-maintained facade is also a safety requirement. Loose bricks or stone, falling glass, deteriorating concrete – all pose significant safety risks to occupants and pedestrians. Regular inspections and maintenance can identify potential hazards and rectify them promptly.

Maintaining Aesthetic Appeal

The facade is the first thing people notice about a building. It plays a significant role in the building’s overall aesthetic appeal. A well-maintained facade can enhance curb appeal and make a positive impression. Regular cleaning, painting, or restoration work helps maintain the facade’s aesthetic appeal.

Increasing Property Value

A well-maintained facade can fetch a higher property value. Potential buyers or renters would be more attracted to a building that looks well cared for. Moreover, regular maintenance can prevent serious structural issues that adversely affect the property’s value.

Energy Efficiency

A well-maintained facade can contribute to a building’s energy efficiency. For example, good-condition windows with an intact weathertight install can reduce drafts and improve the building’s insulation value, helping to control heating and cooling costs.

Regular maintenance of building facades is an investment in the building’s future. It helps preserve the building’s structural integrity, ensures safety, maintains aesthetic appeal, increases property value, promotes energy efficiency, and prevents legal issues. Therefore, building owners should take this responsibility seriously and schedule regular facade maintenance.

New Zealand’s Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) Requirements and Building Compliance Schedules for Buildings with Specified Systems

New Zealand’s Building Act 2004 was established to ensure that buildings throughout the country are designed, constructed, and able to be used to promote sustainable development and the health, safety, and welfare of their occupants. One of the key components of the Building Act is the Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) and the Building Compliance Schedule.

Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF)

A Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) is a declaration made annually by the building owner to the local council, stating that the building’s specified systems have been inspected, maintained, and reported in accordance with the building’s Compliance Schedule. The BWOF is essential as it ensures buildings’ ongoing safety and usability.

The owner must display the BWOF in a public place within the building and provide a copy to the local council. It’s crucial to note that failure to comply with BWOF requirements can result in fines or even prosecution.

Building Compliance Schedules

A Building Compliance Schedule is a document issued by the local council listing the specified systems within a building. It details each system’s performance standards and the procedures for inspection, maintenance, and reporting. The Compliance Schedule must be kept on site and updated as necessary.

Specified systems include, but are not limited to, systems for fire safety, emergency power, lifts, ventilation and air conditioning, lighting, and access and facilities for people with disabilities.

The Process

The process of obtaining a BWOF involves several steps:

1. Application:

The building owner applies for a Compliance Schedule when applying for building consent for new work or when changes to specified systems in an existing building occur.

2. Inspection:

The Compliance Schedule is then used as a guide for the ongoing inspection, maintenance, and reporting procedures for the building’s specified systems.

3. Maintenance:

All specified systems must be maintained in accordance with the Compliance Schedule. The owner must keep detailed records of all inspection, maintenance, and repair work.

4. Warrant issuance:

After 12 months, an Independent Qualified Person (IQP) must inspect the specified systems. If they are satisfied, a BWOF is issued and displayed in the building, and a copy must be provided to the council.

The Building Warrant of Fitness and Building Compliance Schedules play a significant role in maintaining the safety and usability of buildings in New Zealand. Building owners must fully understand and adhere to these requirements to ensure the continued health and safety of all building occupants.

Regular maintenance list

1. Regular Cleaning:

Regularly clean the building facade to remove dirt, dust, and grime. Use appropriate cleaning methods and products recommended for the specific facade material.

2. Inspect for Damage:

Regularly inspect the facade to identify any signs of damage, such as cracks, chips, or loose panels. Address these issues promptly to prevent further damage.

3. Repair and Maintenance:

Schedule routine maintenance and repairs to address any identified issues. This may include repairing cracks, repainting, replacing damaged panels, or sealing gaps.

4. Weatherproofing:

Apply weatherproofing treatments to protect the facade from moisture, UV rays, and extreme weather conditions. This includes applying sealants, waterproof coatings, or installing weather-resistant cladding. But be ware, just applying sealants externally on a leak is likely to cause more damage. Seek professional advice before undertaking waterproofing repairs yourself.

5. Pest Control:

Implement measures to prevent pests such as birds or insects from damaging the facade. This may involve installing bird deterrents, sealing openings, or using appropriate pest control methods. But please don’t just seal vents, as these are critical moisture outlets for your internal buildings health. Seek professional assistance for pest deterrents that are not detrimental to weathertightness and ventilation within your building.

6. Regular Inspections:

Conduct regular inspections of the facade to ensure its structural integrity and identify any potential issues. This helps in early detection and timely resolution of problems.

7. Maintain Landscaping:

Properly maintain the surrounding landscaping to prevent any plant growth that can damage the facade. Trim trees, remove vines, and ensure proper drainage to avoid water damage. This includes gardens that can grow up and under the junction between the cladding and building structure. Any growth or obstacle reduces the amount of water the cladding can shed, and cause hard to detect deterioration behind the cladding line.

8. Follow Manufacturer’s Guidelines:

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance and cleaning specific to the facade material. This ensures that you use the right products and methods without causing any damage. This is because not all building materials can handle strong cleaning products. For some products (such as windows and doors) warm soapy water is the strongest detergent recommended. The use of other products can deteriorate seals and the powder coated finish.

9. Educate Occupants:

Educate occupants about the importance of maintaining the building facade and encourage them to promptly report any issues or concerns.

10. Hire Professional Services:

Consider hiring professional building facade inspection services, like Rommel Building Enclosure Services, for regular inspections of waterproofing membranes, critical cladding, and window junctions. The team at Rommel has the expertise and experience to ensure appropriate inspections of waterproofed elements to improve the longevity of your building’s facade.

maintenance and repair