Product certifi cation concerns aired

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The Building Offi cials Institute of New Zealand (BOINZ) held a recent workshop in Auckland to discuss concerns over the product certifi cation scheme provided for in the Building Act 2004 and currently under development by the Department of Building and Housing. 

 

More than 90 participants, mainly from the manufacturing and supply sector of the construction industry, attended, but also a small number of local authority staff along with representatives from the Registered Master Builders Federation, Metal Roofing Association, Plastics New Zealand, Building Industry Federation, BRANZ and other product accreditation organisations. 

 

BOINZ chief executive Len Clapham highlighted why the workshop had been arranged. 

 

This included industry submissions on the issue which showed: 

progress was slow, 

concern had been expressed about the scheme being voluntary, 

a lack of detail in documents prepared by the DBH for consultation, 

concern about liability and accountability by the whole industry, 

that more than 600,000 different products are being used in New Zealand, 

local authority staff are being forced to make decisions on the acceptance of products, leading to a level of frustration and confusion, 

a lack of a central repository of product information, and 

issues over imported products versus locally-made products and documentation for products. 

 

The question was also asked of the workshop attendees whether there might be an easier way, and if it would be better to debate the options and create a more workable system. 

 

Only one product had been approved in the Australian Scheme over the past 12 months, and the question remained: Was creating a Government-run scheme the best use of resources? One approach for moving forward was put to the workshop. 

 

This involved issuing a set of terms and conditions stating: 

the decision to issue consent is based on the applicant’s application at the time of consent, 

where to draw the line between design submitted in consent and physical work undertaken, including materials used in the building, 

that conformity to the Building Act and the Building Code, at the time of inspection (as much as possible), had been ensured against the consent given. 

 

An alternative could be that more resources are put into current compliance documents, including a consideration for limiting the process by receiving statutory declarations from manufacturers to the industry which state: 

the product/system conformity to the Building Act and Building Code, 

the purpose of the product/system, 

the acceptable scope of the use of the product/system, 

limitations of use, • who may use the same and under what authority/approval, 

compatibility with associated products/systems, and 

management and maintenance documents supplied. 

 

Another step for moving this process forward was put to the meeting, including the development of a comprehensive product/systems database for use by local authorities where they could view any documentation on them relating to their conformity to the Building Act and Building Code. 

 

Further to this, it was proposed that a high level audit committee be established to peer review products/systems and manufacturer statements so that, especially, health and safety products/systems would receive stringent examination as to suitability and use, with this information later being made available on a nationwide database. 

 

Following the presentations, participants were invited to move into three mixed representation groups to consider what they had heard, and provide their own answers to the question of how to implement a product certifi cation scheme under the terms of the Building Act.