Risks and problems associated with the use of non-conforming and non-complying building products can affect the entire building and construction industry. This includes issues relating to health, safety, cost remediation and legal action. Most importantly, this issue can have significant impacts on the safety of the people who occupy buildings.
All those involved in the building and construction industry have a responsibility to be vigilant and to comply with legal requirements.
Whether you are a consumer or a builder you can help mitigate and reduce the risk and issues associated with non-conforming and non-complying building products.
There are five key steps:
A non-conforming building product is a product or material that:
A non-complying building product is a product that is used in a situation where it does not comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code.
There are legislative measures that are already in place to help ensure that the building materials used meet the relevant state legislation, codes and standards. Everyone involved in the building and construction industry has a responsibility to ensure that achieving a cost-effective result does not lead to sub-standard or unsuitable products.
Anyone directly involved in purchasing products and materials needs to understand the various requirements that apply to those products and materials, and the evidence required to demonstrate compliance and conformance.
Consumers, assessment and approval authorities, builders and inspectors should follow these measures:
The National Construction Code (NCC) contains technical provisions for the design, construction and performance of buildings, including building products (excluding electrical and telecommunication products) throughout Australia. It comprises of:
The general provisions regarding the acceptance of design and construction are found in Part A2 of Volumes One and Three and in Part 1.2 of Volume Two.
There are six different types of evidence that can be used to verify that a product conforms and/or complies with the NCC:
The Australian Building Codes Board operates two product certification schemes:
A CodeMark certificate can be accepted as showing compliance with the National Construction Code but check that the certificate confirms that the product is being used in circumstances that are covered by the certificate.
A range of methods and schemes can be used to test whether a building product or material is genuine and will do what it is made to do.
'Procurement of Construction Products - A guide to achieving compliance' published by the Australasian Procurement and Construction Council describes these.
Be cautious when a replacement product is offered on a construction site and it appears to be an identical but considerably cheaper product. Don't accept the substitute product without thoroughly examining the supporting technical data and test results to ensure that it is an equivalent product and is in accordance with the development approval.
Where there is any doubt about the acceptability of a substitute product, refer it back to the building surveyor who assessed the application. In particular, if the specified product is CodeMark compliant and the substitute product is not, then the substitute must be regarded as highly suspect.
It is a breach of the Development Act 1993 if any item or materials incorporated into any building do not comply with the Building Rules and the failure to comply can be attributed to an act or omission of a person who designed, manufactured, supplied or installed the item or materials and it was reasonable to rely on the advice, skills or expertise of that person.
A compliance check occurs at two points:
An inspection of building work should ensure that the building is being constructed in accordance with the approval. This includes any components or materials that were specified in the approval and that are necessary for compliance.
Any concerns about a building product can be raised with the relevant approving authority - ie a local council or private certifier. Councils must undertake inspection and enforcement duties in relation to building work and building surveyors employed by councils have the power to enforce requirements under the Development Act 1993.
The complainant may need to contact one of these state agencies for further advice:
At a national level a complaint can be reported to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission.