Have you ever had the feeling that all you are doing is going around in circles? My last 2 dealings with both local councils prove that no matter how far they go, they quickly revert. Both dealings are for stairs and both prove that integrity or seeking knowledge when faced with something you do not know or possible may not know is in short supply.
A client wants to build a half stair height and landing to a new external door so that a private 1 bedroom area can enter without disturbing the rest of the household. A “20 year veteran” BO asked for the lateral resistance of the landing to be demonstrated. When asked where to go to find what is required and how to implement it, as stairways are not addressed in NZS3604, AS1170 or AS 1656. He attempted to portray the designer as being dumb by looking at the stairs and not the landing. When it was pointed out to him that Stairways definition in the Building Code Handbook includes any landings and as such, it is a stairway under the code, he stated that it should be looked on as deck, not a stair and that the questions being asked put serious pressure on the standard fee for the consent. YES, he threatened extortion by charging extra fees instead of answering the question. This type of bullying is has no place in our Industry and shows that 20 years or piss poor performance adds no value.
The second deals with an extension to an old building. Due to portal frame positions and a larger than expected stairway, the 1000mm landing at the bottom of the stair with a door opening away from the landing has become only 450mm. The Building Inspector stated that the situation did not comply with the code.
Now Clause D1.3.1 only addresses the need for a landing if doors open from or onto a landing can cause an obstruction or for the prevention of fatigue. An elequant assessment was made of the situation and shown that the code does not have any requirement for the landing and therefor it doesn’t not comply with ther code.
The BO wrote back and said the code requires a 900mm landing at the base of the stair and that the 450mm landing was a major non compliance of 50%.
The Acceptable Solution is not the only means of compliance and is not the minimum level of compliance for any code clause. The acceptable solutions are not the buildign code. Any alternative solution does not need to beat or better the acceptable solution.
The expert contends that the 450mm landing at the bottom of the outward opening doors is adequate for the purpose as they are not needed for fatigue prevention of obstruction aversion. And reading the code, I have to agree with him
BUT the point that after 24 years of the building code, for bureacrats to still define the Acceptable Solution as the code requirement is deplorable. How many times do we have to fight this battle? The first thing new recruits should be told is acceptable solutions are not the code and deviating from the acceptable solution does not mean it does not comply with the code.
The building owners are being gouged by bureaucratic bullies who threaten and force capitulation to their interpretations. And when we are forced to seek a determination from MBIE and win, some Councils send an invoice for the work to make a submission and withholds CCC until it is paid. I use the word extortion and it a true and fair definition.