On the 08th of June New Zealand moved to alert Level 1 after 16 days in a row without any new cases.
At the time of writing this article 24 active cases are confirmed on the Ministry of Health Covid-19 information website. Globally active new cases are rising with now well over half a million Covid deaths and over ten million cases. The current challenge in New Zealand is managing those in managed isolation and stopping any community transmission. Testing rates have risen dramatically which shows the public are still very nervous about Covid.
Meanwhile our members are getting on with the task of providing much needed building surveying services across the country since coming out of COVID-19 lockdown on the 28th April into a two week Level 3 period of working. NZIBS members will need to follow the latest editions of New Zealand COVID-19 Standard for New Zealand Construction operations and New Zealand COVID-19 Construction Protocols during the level 1 period. See CHASNZ web site for further details.
The wage subsidy helped businesses and workers as we all adjusted to the initial impact of Covid and for some the subsidy extension became available from the 10th June. In March unemployment was at 4.2%. Currently this rate sits at just over 6% but is expected to reach close to 10% by the end of 2020. To reduce the impact there is a shift to get “shovel ready” projects up and running with a focus on infrastructure investment. A good time to focus on “green” investment and re-start the subsidy schemes to improve home insulation.
What does all this mean for our Building Surveyors and surveying practices? By now we will have reviewed our current workload and attended to any inefficiency in our businesses. We will have enjoyed meeting with our clients face to face and I’m sure retained some of the Zoom meetings to keep travel down to essential only. We will have been busy playing catch up after lock down and be expecting a drop off as we return to a more normal level of activity. Plenty of discussion will have taken place on how Pandemics affect construction contracts and our clients will have sought our expertise on ‘engineer to contract’ matters. Some work streams will have dropped off and new opportunities and doors will have opened. Once of the many benefits of the building surveying profession is that we can adapt quickly to changing markets and use the many surveying skills we have in our tool box to meet market demands at any given time.
One key area still lacking sufficient input by the construction industry is quality. The Construction Sector Accord, a joint commitment from government and industry to work together to create a high performing construction sector, launched in January 2020 the Construction Sector Transformation Plan containing 22 programmes within six workstreams all of which are to be implemented over 3 years. While the above initiatives are to be welcomed failure to actively consider quality as a real goal at the outset of projects goes on. Clients push for quality but sometimes don’t want to invest in the upfront processes required to achieve a quality outcome. Contractors are expected to deliver a quality outcome sometimes without having received sufficient design information. In a slower market, construction firms are currently taking on fixed-price contracts which have not been fully designed. They may just about make a small profit and get the job completed on programme but likely fall short on the quality aspect.
Quality is not just levels of finish but it also relates to delivering the intent of the consented documents and a code compliant building. With complex, energy, structural and passive fire systems in many modern buildings, achieving compliance requires investment by the client, design team and contractors. Councils and insurance companies also share the risks once its discovered that the required quality has not been achieved and the subsequent fallout occurs. We will look closer at Quality at our September conference and during the later part of the year. Yes, the Executive are busy planning the event for the 24th – 26th September, in Auckland.
Our module training programme is back up and running with the latest information set out below. Please do contact Sarah Pugh if you have any questions.
We are by no means out of the Covid crises but as an Institute and as surveyors we must keep pushing on for the benefit of our members and our clients. We look forward to seeing as many members as possible at our Conference for what looks like a “Quality” line up!