Non-Conforming Building Products

Are You Specifying Non-Conforming Building Products?

Building designers have a responsibility to ensure that the appropriate products and materials are used in the appropriate way.

The Australian Building Codes Board has issued advice in regard to non-conforming building products (NCBP). NCBPs are those products and materials that:

  • claim to be something they are not;
  • do not meet required standards for their intended use; or
  • are marketed or supplied with the intent to deceive those who use them.

This is different to non-compliant products (NCPs) and materials which are products or materials used in situations where they do not comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC).

What are your responsibilities as a building designer?

Architects, Designers, Engineers and other specialists involved in the planning and design of building and construction must ensure that they understand and specify the performance requirements of building elements and materials. Design consultants must design buildings to comply with the NCC and the relevant state requirements. This includes the specification of building products which meet the performance requirements of the NCC.

What can you do to avoid non-conforming building products?

The risk of using non-conforming building products can be reduced by taking the following steps when specifying or using building products:

  • specifying or using materials, products and systems that have widely recognised industry certification, accreditation or relevant testing results, such as CodeMark or WaterMark certification;
  • independently checking that certification, accreditation or testing results demonstrate the necessary conformity or compliance, and undertaking product assurance if in doubt;
  • checking that the product or material supplied and installed is what is nominated in the approved plans and specifications.

How do you ensure that you are specifying products that conform?

There are a range of methods and schemes that can be used to test and prove that a building product or material is genuine and will do what it is made to do.

There are six different types of substantiation or evidence that can be used to verify that a product conforms and complies with the NCC Clause A2.2:

  • Current Certificate of Conformity by CodeMark or WaterMark
    An improved CodeMark and WaterMark Certification Scheme commenced implementation on 1 August 2017. Information of these changes are available by CLICKING HERE and HERE respectively.
  • Certificate of Accreditation from a State or Territory Accreditation authority
    In Victoria this will be issued by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee. They have a list of currently accredited products by CLICKING HERE.
  • Certificate from an appropriately qualified person such as an engineer
  • Certificate from a product certification body accredited by JAS-ANZ
    If you have a certificate, you should validate it via www.jas-anz.org as there are some claims of false accreditation and misuse of JAS ANZ symbol.
  • Report registered by a registered testing authority
    Other forms of documentary evidence which demonstrates the suitability for use in a building of a material or form of construction and is deemed acceptable by the relevant decision maker(s).

For detailed information about compliance and conformity assessment, the ABCB recommends that reference be made to the Australasian Procurement and Construction Council Guide to Procurement of Construction Products.

What should you do if you suspect non-conformance?

If you suspect an issue you can contact:

  • Jurisdictional contacts. If you think a product or material may be non-conforming you can contact the jurisdictional regulator, in Victoria’s case the Victorian Building Authority.
  • Submit a complaint or enquiry to the ABCB which will then be forwarded to the jurisdictional regulator.
  • Contact the Consumer Protection Agenda, in Victoria’s case Consumer Affairs Victoria.

The above information and more detail is available from the ABCB by CLICKING HERE.

Other Resources

NATSPEC has released a National Construction Product Register (NCPR) to raise awareness of product conformity, available by CLICKING HERE

The NCPR is an online searchable database of construction products which have authenticated evidence of conformity to relevant Australian and international standards. It does not provide information or recommendations on the suitability or use of any product for any particular application, situation or project (that is whether is compliant or non-compliant)