10.04.2019

Practitioners urged to take care when relying on Codemark Certificates of Conformity

The recent withdrawal of nine Certificates of Conformity issued under the CodeMark Scheme has again highlighted the need for practitioners to take due care when accepting Certificates as evidence of suitability.

While practitioners are entitled to accept or rely on a Certificate of Conformity (Certificate) as evidence of suitability (as described in Clause A2.2 of Volume One or Clause 1.2.2 of Volume Two of the National Construction Code), each Certificate should be scrutinised to ascertain its current validity.

Certificate Validity

Certificates are usually issued for three years and, unless renewed, expire at the end of that period. All Certificates have an issue date and an expiry date.

Certificates go through a lifecycle and can be withdrawn for many reasons, including:

– non-payment of fees;

– failure to have a production facility inspected for ongoing quality assurance;

– failure to comply with CodeMark Australia Certification Scheme rules;

– failure to comply with procedures of the certification body; or

– a decision by the product owner to allow the certification to expire.

Practitioners should ensure a particular Certificate remains valid by checking either the register of the relevant certification body or the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand.

USING CERTIFICATES AS EVIDENCE

A valid Certificate can be relied upon as evidence to support the use of a material, form of construction or design that meets a Performance Requirement or Deemed-to-Satisfy Provision in
accordance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA). In determining whether to accept a Certificate, the responsible practitioner must consider:

– the currency of the Certificate;

– any conditions set out in the Certificate; and

– whether the proposed material use, construction or design reflects compliance with the Certificate and any relevant conditions specified.

Practitioners are advised to read all Certificates very carefully, in order to gain an understanding of the BCA requirements being certified by each Certificate.

LIMITATIONS OR CONDITIONS ON BUILDING MATERIALS

Certificates commonly contain limitations or conditions for the installation and use of building materials. For example, building materials or products are usually required to be installed in a
particular manner or in accordance with a technical manual supplied by the manufacturer.

If a Certificate is accepted, all conditions or limitations listed on the Certificate should be transferred to design documentation, including architectural drawings, specifications and fire engineering reports. Alternatively, if there is any doubt about a Certificate, practitioners should contact the relevant issuing body for clarification.

If a Certificate does not provide certainty to a designer or relevant building surveyor regarding the compliance of a product for a particular use, it is not appropriate to rely on the Certificate. In
the case where a relevant building surveyor (RBS or MBS) refuses to accept a Certificate, the product owner, builder or RBS may apply to the Building Appeals Board for a determination.

Practitioners responsible for the designing of a building, issuing a building permit for the construction of a building, or constructing a building should also review the following technical guidance, which it relates to the application and validity of Certificates:

– Suitability of materials for construction purposes (VBA, 20115)

– Advisory Note 2016-3 ‘Fire Performance of External Walls and Cladding’ (ABCB, revised March 2018)

– Industry Alert – External walls and BCA compliance (VBA, issued 24 February 2016, updated 28 June 2016).