Differentiating between non-complying and non-conforming building products does matter

Lacrosse building fire

Differentiating between non-complying and non-conforming building products does matter

The Parliament of Australia Senate has established an inquiry into non-conforming building products in response to a spate of concerns being reported across the construction industry. These reports have covered a wide range of issues including:

  1. Non-compliant building products.  That is, products that do not meet contractual or regulatory obligations such as the obligations contained in the National Construction Code.
  2. Non-conforming building products.  That is, a building product that has been provided with some form of declaration stating that it meets specific product requirements when in fact it does not.  These specific product requirements may be to address regulatory requirements, project specific requirements or a voluntary standard.  These declarations can be:

1st party (the supplier declarations)

2nd party (the purchaser/builder or builder’s agent’s declarations)

3rd party declarations made under the supervision of an independent conformity assessment body such as a JAS-ANZ accredited product certification body.

Why differentiation matters

Differentiation between non-complying and non-conforming building products is essential to aggregating common problems that can be addressed through common solutions.

Solutions to non-complying building products

The concerns being reported suggest that the current level of reliance on 1st and 2nd party declarations may not always be sufficiently robust.  Some of the risks arising from non-compliant building products may be adequately addressed through liability laws and legal recourse.  Depending on the risks involved, accredited 3rd party product certification may be a relatively inexpensive and effective mechanism for reducing the risk of non-complying building products.

But there may also be other technical barriers to compliance.  That is, the people charged with verifying compliance at the end of a project may not have the range of knowledge and skills required to deal with a wide range of 1st and 2nd party declarations of conformity required to satisfy complex compliance obligations.

Solutions to non-conforming building products

Accredited product certification bodies should be able to easily identify unsubstantiated 1st and 2nd party declarations of conformity.

Further inquiries can be addressed to: JAS-ANZ Manager Business Development: Brett Abraham brett.abraham [at] jas-anz.org

Photo provided by Metropolitan Fire Brigade (2015)