Important to check materials documentation

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By MBIE manager, determinations and assurance, John Gardiner

 

A number of recent concerns about building products highlights the importance of checking evidence supplied with products used in building work, as well as the need to take greater care around product substitution.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) now has a dedicated email address for product complaints at
products@mbie.govt.nz so we can gather hard facts and act where we need to — so please let us know if you come across any building products that aren’t fit for the job.

While our role is to check on Building Code compliance issues — it’s up to the Commerce Commission to look at false or unsubstantiated claims or misleading advertising — we can pass on any concerns you might have in that area to the commission or act jointly where appropriate.

So far this year, we’ve issued advisories on the safety and suitability of some external claddings, and supported the Commerce Commission’s investigation into steel reinforcing mesh.

There are some ongoing investigations, and we have now proposed a ban on retrofitting residential buildings with foil insulation following various safety concerns (go to www.building.govt.nz and search “news and updates” for the latest details).

The MBIE also has a major building product assurance campaign underway which should mean you start to see better product information.

In particular, we’re encouraging manufacturers and suppliers to create more Product Technical Statements (PTSs) to summarise code compliance and other critical details.

PTSs can be useful for you as they should provide clear links to construction, installation and maintenance details so you don’t have to go hunting for this. They can also help you compare different product features.

If you are carrying out residential building work, PTSs can also help you meet your Building Act obligations to provide product maintenance and warranty details to the home owner. 

As part of our product assurance campaign, we’re also urging people to take greater care with product substitution — that is, using building products that differ from those specified in a building consent.

If substitution is not handled properly, the products may have no evidence of compliance with the relevant Building Code requirements, can invalidate various contract conditions and the implied warranties in the Building Act, and can lead to work that the building consent authority can’t sign off for a code compliance certificate.

The MBIE’s three-step approach to product substitution is shown in the graphic above. A quick guide to product substitution, along with other information on building product assurance and PTSs, can be found at www.building.govt.nz/product-assurance, or call 0800 242 243, or email info@mbie.govt.nz.

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