Setting best practice – Waterproofing Membrane Codes

Waterproofing Membrane Association Inc. – Email: |

The Waterproofing Membrane Association Incorporation (WMAI) has developed and produced several new Codes of Practice for Waterproof Membranes for the industry to accept, adapt and adhere to, all aimed at raising standards that will vastly improve the building industry.

In the wake of COVID-19, there is going to be large number of firm closures or scaling down of their operations resulting in a lot of people going forward that will become unemployed and scrambling to find new employment.

With the urgent need to build and finish more homes many people will be turning to the building industry for employment.

While people are turning more and more to the trades, ensuring people have the proper skills to work in the building industry is now more important than ever. What the building and construction industry does not want is unskilled workers producing inferior suspect buildings, particularly the vital requirement of water-proofing the structure. The building industry, home owners and Territorial Authorities (Councils) must not face the return of leaking homes.

The Waterproofing Membrane Association Incorporation (WMAI) founding chairman, Jim Gerbes says, “For the recovery, the government needs to focus on pouring money into training. It’s very pleasing to note that within the Budget just released are the increased funds for industry training for apprentices, but the Government needs to recognise that training is also required for upskilling a wide cross section of dislodged people seeking to be employed in the building industry. It’s crucial that people entering in or remaining in the building industry are fully trained.

“The biggest problem I’ve seen on visits to building sites or carrying out building inspections is that a lot of workers have adapted substandard practices because they have not been adequately trained to comply with the New Zealand Building Code, project Building Consent documents and Codes of Practices. They too need up-skilling to raise standards. With a lot of new people coming into the industry untrained, these not so good trade practices will only grow.” Before the establishment of the

Waterproofing Membrane Association Incorporation (WMAI), Jim served on the New Zealand Apprenticeship committee for 14 years. His work with the New Zealand Apprenticeship committee instilled a passion for the importance of proper training, especially for the young tradespeople entering into the industry as they are the future tradespeople.

Reduction of qualification training hours and the suspension of apprenticeships for a period created confusion and the reduction of skilled tradespeople in the industry, leading to the leaking home epidemic in the late 90s and shortage of adequate trained workers in the industry today to build and finish the number of homes required to house our people.

The WMAI was formed in the early 2000s due to a lack of standards within the building industry. Its purpose was to develop Codes of Practices for waterproofing membranes to set best trade practice in our industry and in doing so raise standards to reduce future leaky buildings.

“Yet there’s no Licensed Practitioner Certificate in waterproofing. Hard to understand the oversight and accept, a matter that must be addressed by government and resolved,” Jim says.

Ensuring waterproofing applicators are adequately trained is a top priority for the WMAI association, especially as new product technologies and building systems are introduced into the industry requiring new additional Codes of Practices for Waterproof Membranes to be developed. This is crucial so events like the leaky building debacle doesn’t happen again.

“When solving leaky homes, it requires good, sound practice of selecting the correct certified product and adhering to correct application procedures to ensure the structure is waterproofed. That is the purpose of a waterproofing applicator within the industry, yet not adequately recognised as the major and most important Licensed Practitioner was missed – and that was waterproofing,” Jim says.

Unfortunately there are too many administration misconceptions or poor implementation in the building and construction industry that need urgent attention as we move out of COVID-19 into the aftermath of unemployment dysfunction where we cannot continue with “same old same old”.

We need to recognize tradespeople need to be trained. Unfortunately, in the past, the building industry has lost a lot of training facilities in poly-techs due to the advancement of computerisation training courses. This needs to stop, tradepeople are a vital important part of our society and their needs have to be recognised and catered for.

“We’ve got to train people, and that also means re-training people.” Up-skilling is a must, more important today than ever before.

The Waterproofing Membrane Association Incorporation (WMAI) has worked closely with the Building Authority, Department of Building and Housing, and now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment over many years to develop Codes of Practices for Waterproof Membranes through hundreds of drafts and the extended Citing exercise to raise the standard of the Codes. All this at our own industry and personal cost.

Meeting on the last Thursday of every month, industry experts – assisted by experienced administrators, practical installers and a technical writer – have developed standards within the Codes of Practices by setting best trade practice that would change the industry for the better, especially if funding from the Government through MBIE was made available.

Doing so would speed up development of Codes of Practices that are crucially needed by wide cross section of the building and construction industry and there remains more codes ahead of us.

“Our association is a leader in the development of Codes because we’ve been working with MBIE 16 years plus to secure acceptance of our codes of Practices. I think it’s one of the most important aspects of training people. It sets out to have the best trade practice – in waterproofing.

Industry experts from WMAI have produced three codes of practice:

Reinforced Modified Bitumen (RMB)/ Membrane Roofing Code

This Code of Practice covers aspects of Waterproofing Membranes involved with roofs, decks, gutters and more. The revisions for this Code of Practice is almost completed and will be presented to MBIE to review under the Citing excise to raise its standard to Acceptable Solution by June 2021.

Internal Wet Area Code

A Code of Practice covering interiors is vital, especially because New Zealand has $40 million + annually + insurance leaky building claims per year. This Code has been presented, reviewed and is going forward with MBIE in June 2020 for citing.

Below-Ground Tanking

Below-Ground Tanking protects buildings from water ingress from below ground – that covers buildings built below ground or into banks on slopping sections. This Code of Practice for Waterproof Membranes development is critical because there’s nothing in the New Zealand building code to cover tanking. This code will be ready to be reviewed by MBI from June 2020.

It goes out for public review, consultation and submissions by a very wide cross section of the industry. Good sound acceptable submissions will be included within the code’s final draft. These codes go through very vigorous scrutiny to make sure they reflect the current and best trade practice,” Jim says. Finally, this code will go forward within the citing programme in December 2021 to become an acceptable Solution.

Future Codes

After the Below-Ground Tanking Code of Practice is updated, our association will be working on two further codes, being Code of Practice for Composite Single Ply Waterproof Membrane and then Code of Practice for Liquid External Waterproof Membranes.

“Our association was one of the first to adopt this procedure, and now a lot of industries are following our lead. In essence, with the Waterproofing Membrane Association, the exercise of raising standards is ongoing.”

Waterproofing codes are critical to make sure waterproof substrates are created to the highest standard. This emphasises the need for upskilling and retraining people in the widest possible section of the building industry beyond initial training. Our industry requires high standards of building design and construction to provide good sound structure to waterproof.

The WMAI is working with the Roofing Association, the Tiling Association and other organisations to put in place training descriptions that cover the industry as a whole.

These industries all have one important thing in common: waterproofing the structure of a building.

The Waterproofing Membrane Association Incorporated is constantly raising the bar for all associations to have highly skilled tradespeople in the building industry, especially in regards to waterproofing membranes that keep your building or home safe and dry.

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