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Call to track building materials

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/06/2017

Building materials in New Zealand could be electronically tracked in a bid to save some of the $200 million spent annually on replacing sub-standard products, according to a new report.

Research group BRANZ has released a study looking at the possibility of putting scannable barcodes on building materials to stop items that aren't up to scratch being swapped in during construction.

"Pressure to manage building costs can provide a strong incentive to source cheaper alternative materials," the authors said.

"Substitution during construction can provide a means for use of [non-compliant products]."

The report estimates that up to $232 million is spent each year replacing non-compliant building products, plus other costs.

"There are additional costs apart from reconstruction such as redesign costs, extra council fees, loss of reputation and disruption to business."

It argues having a traceability scheme - such as that used for food internationally - would make it harder to swap materials for cheaper ones and would potentially save $23m a year if the amount of non-compliant product being used was dropped by 30 per cent.

Just a six per cent drop would cover the cost of the system.

It would also reduce the risk of injury, the risks to business and potentially speed up design and consenting, the authors say.

The report recommends a consultation with industry and investigation before developing a prototype system for testing.

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