INDEPENDENT NEWS

"Sledgehammer To Crack A Nut"

Published: Tue 29 Apr 2003 12:09 AM
Timber Treatment Proposals Use "Sledgehammer To Crack A Nut"
The New Zealand forest industry believes proposals under consideration by Standards NZ and the Building Industry Authority (BIA) to require all timber framing in new houses to be treated to 'H1.2' standard are unnecessary and unrealistic.
NZ Forest Industries Council chief executive Stephen Jacobi said the proposals would damage the industry's efforts to promote radiata pine in international markets.
"The forestry industry is New Zealand's third largest exporter, earning $3.7 billion a year in foreign exchange. If we are to grow exports of added-value forest products we must position radiata pine in higher value segments internationally," he said.
"We have been making excellent progress in Asian markets where there is strong interest in radiata pine. However, there is a real risk that these proposals will undermine a lot of that progress by calling into question the suitability of radiata for use in construction."
Mr Jacobi said mandatory timber treatment in all situations would not solve the issue of weathertightness. It would also cost every person building a new home several thousand dollars.
"According to the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service the weathertightness problem affects less than 1 per cent of all new houses. Treatment of timber framing is simply unnecessary for the vast majority of New Zealand homes - it's the equivalent of taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut."
Mr Jacobi noted that the industry could have difficulty in immediately supplying treated timber to meet the expanded demand.
"The consequences of these proposals have not been sufficiently thought through. They are likely to cause significant disruption to the domestic housing market.
"An indication of how unrealistic they are is that Douglas Fir, a wood species used widely in timber framing especially in the South Island, cannot be treated effectively."
Mr Jacobi confirmed that the industry had brought its concern to the attention of Ministers and would participate actively in the public consultation process in an effort to see more realistic solutions adopted.

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