There was one more article in that BRANZ magazine I mentioned in my previous post that talks about a central library of building products. For sometime this has been an obvious improvement to the construction industry productivity and would save hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary paperwork. At least two thirds or more of the paperwork supplied to the council for a building consent application is product detailing.

Everything from, different claddings meeting at a junction, to window/cladding junctions, to roofing details, even down to ensuring that a bead of silicone is put at the junction of an acrylic shower liner where it meets the painted wall lining so water doesn’t get down the back of the lining. How far claddings have to be off hardstands and the ground.

Now some of this paperwork is necessary and site specific. But most of this is paperwork is supplied every time we apply for a consent. Some of it is in PDF form but some councils require us to edit those PDF’s to be site specific. This repetitive information is vetted, viewed and approved by the building consent officer, stamped and supplied to the building site. Never to be seen again.

It is a requirement to be kept on site because when there is a building inspection the inspecting officer has to be shown said paperwork. Ask any builder how often they look at this paperwork and they will tell you, the only time they view it is when they need to look at the plans. All the specifications etc, that two thirds of information we supply is almost never looked at. I once asked the council why is it that I have to supply all this information and I was told is so the building inspector can look it up, if he needs to.

I shudder to think how much paper has gone to a building site over the years, never to leave the plastic envelope it’s delivered in and ends up in the landfill at the end of the job. If a building inspector can go to site to view completed work, take photographs, write documents, that are immediately uploaded via cellphone signal, to the council portal, then that information that ends up in landfill can be viewed electronically on site as well.

The client’s money saved would be in the thousands, never mind the productivity gained by not having to provide repetitive information. And, if you’ve read to this part, I’ll leave you with this, we are in the 21st Century, I can read a weather forecast on my phone on top of a mountain, I think the building industry should join us too.