Legislative changes present opportunities for insulation sector

iaonz-logoA key piece of new legislation is starting to have a significant impact on the insulation sector, says Hamish Aitken, immediate past president of the Insulation Association of New Zealand (IAONZ).

“Earlier this year the Government passed an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) which included new requirements for insulation and smoke alarms, strengthens enforcement powers and makes other Residential Tenancy improvements.  The amendments to the RTA require insulation in all rental homes to comply with the New Zealand Building regulations by 2019. These changes aim to make homes warmer, drier and safer for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders without imposing excessive bureaucracy or cost.”

Hamish says IAONZ is working to ensure the Insulation industry is well prepared with a ‘sensible and workable’ programme put in place to supply more than 188,000 rental properties with insulation over the next three years.

“The industry developed a lot of skills and capacity to deliver EECA’s Warm Up New Zealand scheme, so is well poised to meet the demand, which equates to around 5220 homes per month over 36 months. We have advised the government that industry can cope provided the workload is evenly spread over the three-year programme.”

However there are already indications many landlords may wait before installing the insulation. If everyone waits until the last minute the industry will not have the capacity or ability to deliver, says Hamish.

“If there is a bottleneck at the end it could push prices up significantly, create quality problems and also may mean landlords cannot get the insulation installed in time.  This is why our big message to landlords is don’t delay.”

Another new requirement under the Residential Tenancies Act Amendment is that the level of insulation in a rental property must be recorded on any new tenancy agreement from 1st July 2016.

“It is great for tenants to have better, healthier homes and we think the rental market will start asking whether a home is insulated or not. This could be the difference between a landlord securing a good tenant or not, so there are definite benefits for them getting in early to have their investment properties insulated.”

Hamish Aitken, immediate past president of the Insulation Association of New Zealand.

Hamish Aitken, immediate past president of the Insulation Association of New Zealand.

A small funding programme is being launched by Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) to help landlords whose tenants have Community Services Cards, with subsidies available of up to 50 percent from select providers in some cases.

“The total amount of funding available is small compared to previous funding schemes and may only be available to the end of 2017 or earlier,” says Hamish.

The revision of New Zealand Standard NZS4246 Energy Efficiency – Installing Insulation in Residential Buildings, has recently been completed.   This guideline is also set to have an impact.

Hamish says IAONZ and a host of other stakeholders such as BRANZ, EECA, Master Builders, and the electrical and lighting sectors have also worked hard to ensure the revision of Standard 4246 resulted in a more specific, yet clearer and easier to follow document

“The review of NZS4246 included improvements in health and safety guidelines, the addition of information for blown-in products, and most importantly, providing clarity around how insulation should be treated around electrical equipment especially downlights and vents .”

Hamish says older, cheaper downlights had the potential to cause a fire if the insulation came into contact with them.

“Historically the insulation had to be cut up to 200mm away from each older cheaper downlights to avoid the risk of fire, which made the insulation ineffective in these areas. The New Zealand Lighting Council has also been very effective trying to resolve some of these issues, working with IAONZ and a number of other parties to provide more clarity and take the confusion out of the market.”

In simple terms, the solution is for installers to follow downlight manufacturers’ instructions to determine how insulation should be treated.

“The more modern LED lights these days don’t have the same heat, with insulation able to be installed right up against them in most cases.”

A revision of NZS 4246 has provided greater clarity around the installation of insulation around downlights.

A revision of NZS 4246 has provided greater clarity around the installation of insulation around downlights.

Hamish says IAONZ is updating its training modules in line with the revised Standard.

“These will become the new platform for training which we intend to roll out later this year, following the release of the new guidelines in September.”

IAONZ was established by representatives of some of the major manufacturers, suppliers and installers in residential insulation, with the support and involvement of EECA.

Its primary role is to establish nationwide performance benchmarks for the supply and installation of residential insulation, and to develop and deliver training programmes to the industry.

Hamish says it is wise for anyone engaging an insulation specialist to check if they are IAONZ members, particularly with the risk of ‘cowboys’ entering the market given the opportunities on the horizon.

“As much as we can we ensure IAONZ members are reputable professionals with the right training and practices in place, and good health and safety policies.”

He says a recent case in Nelson where an elderly woman was pushed into buying insulation for her home by a cold-caller at twice the price of other insulators highlights the need to make these checks.

“We recommend people don’t be fooled by the offers of huge discounts offered by telemarketers and do their own research into a company. If unsure they can always get another quote from an IAONZ member in their region.”

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