Non-conforming Building Products

Practitioners involved in building work have a responsibility to ensure that the right products and materials are used in the right way. Products that do not meet these requirements are sometimes referred to as non-conforming building products or non-complying building products.

Non-conforming building products (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.

For example a building product that is labelled or described as being non-combustible but which is combustible is a NCBP.

Non-compliant building products are products and materials that are used in situations where they do not comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC). This may include products that comply with the relevant standards in terms of testing and/or marking, but have been used in a location or situation for which the NCC states they are not suitable.

An example of a NCP would include a building product that is combustible, and described as such, but is used in a situation where a non-combustible product is required under the NCC, so it is not fit for purpose and is therefore a non-complying product.

A building product or material can therefore be both non-conforming and non-complying.

What can be done 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.

National Construction Code requirements for verifying product conformity and compliance

The NCC is a uniform set of technical provisions for the design, construction and performance of buildings. It is comprised of:

  • the Building Code of Australia (BCA) – Volumes One and Two of the NCC; and
  • the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) – Volume Three of the NCC.

The general provisions regarding the acceptance of design and construction are found in Part A2 of Volumes One and Three and Part 1.2 of Volume Two of the NCC. These sections of the NCC can be accessed and downloaded from the Australian Building Codes Board website.

Clause A2.2 lists several types of evidence that can be used to verify that a product conforms or complies with the NCC:

  1. Report issued by a registered testing authority that demonstrates suitability of the use of the material or form of construction.
  2. Current Certificate of Conformity issued under the Codemark or Watermark scheme.
  3. Current Certificate of Accreditation issued by a State or Territory Accreditation authority (in Victoria by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee).
  4. Certificate from an appropriately qualified person such as an engineer.
  5. Certificate from a product certification body accredited by Joint Accreditation Scheme of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ).
  6. 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).

Information sourced from the VBA website.