The Building Products Innovation Council (BPIC) has just released an Industry Position Paper that details necessary changes needed in the National Construction Code (NCC) to counteract building product fraud across the Australian market. The paper summarises the expertise of 24 industry contributors in a seminal document to tackle the issue of non-conforming products in the building industry.
Current provisions in the NCC relating to building product Evidence of Suitability (A2 provisions) have not essentially changed since the first edition of the Building Code of Australia in 1988. Conversely the market has evolved considerably and a review of the A2 provisions is now urgently overdue.
Building product fraud usually takes the form of Non-Conforming Building Products (NCBPs). NCBPs are 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 a serious issue for homebuyers because it means they are not getting what they pay for and there can be high costs involved in having fraudulent products identified, removed and replaced,” Elizabeth McIntyre, the Chair of BPIC said, “Owners may also be faced with further costs such as being deprived of using some or all of their buildings, higher insurance premiums and potentially reduced property values as a result of the perception that their building is sub-standard.”
“For the industry, NCBPs create a grossly uneven market where complying businesses are trying to compete against manufacturers that are selling non-conforming, inferior (and potentially dangerous) products and operating without important insurances such as recall insurance,” said Ms McIntyre.
The building industry has also experienced reduced levels of oversight of the construction process by skilled, experienced and independent practitioners to ensure good results.
“Management of the building product supply chain is a national issue, as building products are not affected by state and territory borders,” said Ms McIntyre, “Australian building regulations, especially the NCC should clearly outline the type of evidence of suitability required for building products, materials, designs and systems.”
Ultimately 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.
“What we want is a level playing field in the building industry for all participants,” said Ms McIntyre, “and we are looking forward to working closely with the A2 review team from the Australian Building Codes Board to help modernise the NCC to cope with a supply chain environment where we see an increased use of offshore product sourcing and decreasing levels of local manufacturing.”
Download BPIC Industry Position Paper – NCC Evidence of Suitability (A2) Review