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    BPIC recommends changes to the NCC A2 provisions to combat non-compliant building products

    Nathan Johnson

    The Building Products Innovation Council (BPIC) is calling for an overhaul of the evidence of suitability provisions in the building code, to end the use of non-fit and non-complying building products in Australia.

    The Industry Position Paper - NCC Evidence of Suitability (A2) Review offers five recommendations for change to the National Construction Code (NCC) Evidence of Suitability (A2) provisions which is currently being reviewed by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB).

    Interestingly, the BPIC is calling for a crackdown on the use of conforming building products in inappropriate designs and forms of construction (non-compliant applications), rather than simply focussing on the procurement and use of non-conforming products.

    AN EVOLVING PROBLEM

    The BPIC notes that despite the evolution of the building product marketplace since the release of the first Building Code of Australia in 1988, the NCC A2 provisions have remained essentially unchanged.

    This evolution has had a significant effect on the supply chain over the past decade, brought on by an increased use of offshore sources, a decreased level of local manufacturing and an increased uptake in online purchasing of building products.

    For the BPIC, this has led to both a saturation of non-compliant building products in the Australian marketplace as well as an increased use of non-fit building products on Australian buildings as many suppliers are marketing products manufactured by others as their ‘own brand’ and intimating to consumers that they are the original producers but don’t have the knowledge to ensure products they purchase are ‘fit-for-purpose’.

    Once these products are in the supply chain, says the BPIC, the provenance is often lost and seeking a remedy to building failures when they arise becomes extremely difficult.

    “Improved ease of import, declining availability from Australian manufacturers, international design trends and intensifying competitive pressures has led to more instances of ‘one off’ direct imports of small quantities (e.g. one shipping container load) of particular building products by builders and project managers for use on a particular project,” reads the report.

    “Such imports often come from suppliers with whom no ongoing commercial relationship exists or is contemplated, and whose quality compliance performance is often unknown or unknowable.”

    Additionally, says the BPIC, the current A2 provisions make it easy for builders to substitute products specified (and compliant) at the design stage for products that that might not necessarily meet the performance as the original specified.

    “Alternative products to those that are specified at the design stage of a building as part of an appropriate Evidence of Suitability process can be substituted without any effective mechanism to ensure the alternative has the same properties, performance and credentials as the original specified product,” they explain.

    “This situation is exacerbated by the practice of using the terms “or similar” and “or equivalent” on documentation where the critical performance metrics of the specified products are not listed so there is no way for alternative or substituted products to be evaluated against original fit-for-purpose compliance criteria.”

    Ultimately, says the BPIC, the most fundamental problem is that the majority of building products do not require any form of approval or have any requirement to attest to their performance and fitness for purpose prior to being offered for sale.

    “In many instances, a conforming and a non-conforming product can look and feel the same. Establishing compliance at the point of sale is the most effective place for enforcement and will work for many products that have manufacturer compliance documentation, product approval forms, and certification, but it is not practical for all products and this needs to be taken into account,”

    “Whilst Australian standards are called up in building codes, and thus by reference must be adhered to, the method of demonstrating compliance is poorly articulated. While mandatory certification would seem to be an answer to many of these issues, it has not proven to be completely effective in the electrical and plumbing sectors, and is not necessarily appropriate for building products used in many relatively benign applications (e.g. door stops, skirting boards, etc).”

    RECOMMENDING CHANGES

    The BPIC made five recommended NCC A2 changes which are summarised in the drop-downs below:

    1. COMPLIANCE PATHWAYS

    2. TERMINOLOGY

    3. PRODUCT TESTING

    4. PRODUCTS USED IN HIGH-RISK APPLICATIONS

    5. INNOVATION ISSUES

     


    DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT HERE:


     

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