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Code of Practice for Torch-On Membranes   Date: Tuesday 28 October, 2008

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Hitchins New Zealand Limited is pleased to announce that the Code of Practice for Torch-On Membranes is available in printed hard copy or downloaded from our website or the Membrane Group New Zealand Incorporated website.

Leaking Homes

Approximately 7 years ago it became apparent that there were problems in the construction and finishing of residential homes. Publicity brought out more claims and suddenly we had an epidemic of claims that are still being investigated and resolved today.

The result has been a complete revision of the Building Code with the emphasis on areas of buildings referred to as the umbrella; being roofs, gutters, parapets, walls, windows and doors, decks, balustrades, protrusions and below-ground tanking. Simply all external surfaces.

Lack of Standards

Identifying the areas of concern and raising the construction requirements only highlighted another problem, there were very few Standards (produced by Standards New Zealand) covering the trades or product systems for the areas of concern.

A Standard costs between $150,000.00 to $200,000.00, took 18 to 24 months for the Building Industry to develop and raised the question “who pays”. The fact that there were so few Standards for our industry indicated that no one accepted the responsibility to cover the cost.

Codes of Practices

Jim Gerbes, Managing Director of Hitchins New Zealand Limited “thought there has to be a better way” carried out some research and took his finding to the Building Authority, promoting the development of Codes of Practices by the industries involved.

The concept was to develop a number of Codes of Practices to cover all types of waterproof membranes used in the building industry. These Codes would cover the standard that membrane products had to be produced to, selection and marketing of membranes, building design and construction, installation, training, health and safety, post installation and maintenance.

Good reception, liked the proposal but thought that industry firms (competitors) would not work together to develop Codes. Three weeks later a delegation of approximately 19 firms declared that they were keen to proceed to develop Codes of Practices and achieved the endorsement required from the Building Authority.

Membrane Group

The result was the forming of the Membrane Group in 2004 to develop these Codes. As the group progressed they formed association with other trade groups and became an incorporated body.

Jim Gerbes became the Group’s Chairman, a position he still holds as he works with all members of the Membrane Group to develop Codes of Practices.

Code of Practice for Torch-on Membranes

The Group elected to proceed with the Code of Practice for Torch-on Membranes first and initially 12 firms’ representatives met at 3 weekly intervals to develop the Code through all its phases. The Membrane Group was assisted greatly by a professional writer, the Department of Building and Housing (formerly Building Authority) and other national organizations.

As there were no other Codes of Practices for the group to use as a template, work started from scratch and completed the Code under 2 years.

Legal Challenge

Nuralite Waterproofing Limited took legal action against the Membrane Group New Zealand Incorporated and the Code of Practice for Torch-on Membranes claiming it contravened the Fair Trading and Commerce Act.

Whilst the Fair Trading section of the Commerce Commission ruled within 6 months in the Membrane Group’s favour, it took a further 18 months approximately for the Commerce Commission to rule on the anti-competitiveness of the Code of Practice for Torch-on Membranes. Mainly due to the industry Code being the first of its kind.

Again, pleased to advise that the Commerce Commission has ruled in favour of the Membrane Group of New Zealand Incorporated and the Code of Practice for Torch-on Membranes.


The Code of Practice for Torch-on Membranes can be sighted and downloaded in our website under section “links” or the Membrane Group website www.membrane.org.nz.

Five thousand bound printed copies have been circulated to Membrane Group members, associated members, affiliated trade organizations, territorial authorities (Councils), architects, designers, engineers, BRANZ etc. If you require a copy apply by email to sales@membrane.org.nz.

Codes of Practice for Wet Area Membranes

Elected to proceed to develop a Code of Practice for Wet Area Membranes due to high level of problems in wet areas. To do so the Membrane Group has embarked on membership drive to recruit other membrane firms involved in this area within the industry.

Code of Practice for External Liquid Membranes will follow, the Code of Practice for Below Ground Tanking Membranes and continue on until all membranes are covered. Should you wish to comment on any of these Codes, please email to comments@membrane.org.nz.


Codes of Practices are based on “setting the best practices in waterproofing membranes”. They are guides which the Membrane Group offers members and non-members to assist all marketing and installation firms to raise standards.

Training is very important, unified training is critical in raising standards, therefore the Membrane Group in association with other training providers propose to develop training and certification requirements to cover this industry.


Hitchins New Zealand Limited endorses the efforts of the Membrane Group and the Code of Practice for Torch-on Membranes.


At the second meeting of the group all marketing company members gave an assurance, “that at the completion of the Code of Practice for Torch-on Membranes” any membrane being marketed by them that did not meet the standard would be withdrawn from the market and replaced by ones that do”.

Hitchins New Zealand Limited is pleased to announce that all INDEX modified reinforced membrane that we market here in New Zealand do comply. Further a BRANZ Appraisal and Certification is pending as at 30/09/08.

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