Recommendation for Strata Buildings to review Building Materials

Due to the recent events, It is advised that Strata Buildings review their own procedures and own properties.  The Department of Fair Trading has advised that;

Building work in Australia must conform and comply with the National Construction Code(NCC), relevant technical standards, and local laws. This ensures our buildings are safe, healthy and durable which means we all can have confidence in their performance.

The products and materials a Strata Scheme selects, approves and how they are used must also be ‘fit for purpose’.

In recent years, concerns have been raised about the risks of using substandard (‘non-conforming’) building products or materials, or using them incorrectly (‘non-complying’). Use of these products can cause significant costs – from repairing and replacing products, to risks to safety, or even building failure.

Owners Corporations  can reduce and manage the risks associated with using non-conforming and/or non-complying building products by following five simple steps:

  1. Be informed about non-conforming and non-complying building products
  2. Be involved in the building product decision making process
  3. Be aware of the building regulatory system
  4. Be smart by using schemes that assure products
  5. Get help when you need it.

What are non-conforming and non-complying building products? 

In simple terms, non-conforming refers to ‘bad products, while non-compliant refers to products that are ‘used badly.

NSW is working with the Commonwealth and other State and Territory jurisdictions on strategies to reduce the risks from non-conforming and non-complying building products and materials.

Non-conforming building products and materials are those 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.

So, a building product that is labelled or described as being “non-combustible” but which is in fact “combustible” is a non-conforming building product. 

Non-complying building products and materials are those that are used in situations where they do not comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code(NCC), other laws and Australian Standards.

That is 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, is not fit for purpose and is a non-complying product.

Who is responsible? 

Everyone in the supply chain has a responsibility to be involved and ensure the right products and materials are used in the right way in a building project.

Owners Corporations/Strata Committee members  place in the supply chain can also mean they have specific obligations or duties to check and assure that the right products and materials are used, and are used correctly.

Depending on your place in the supply chain you can face specific risks and liabilities if products and materials are non-complying or non-conforming.

Architects, designers, engineers and other specialists  

Architects, Designers, Engineers and other specialists involved in the planning, design and construction of buildings must ensure that any products, materials or systems specified or approved for use in their designs are appropriately approved, ‘fit for purpose’, and meet the performance requirements of the building elements in which they are used.

Approvers and certifiers  

Approvers and certifiers of development and construction have responsibilities for ensuring that plans and specifications and critical aspects of construction comply with Codes, standards and laws.

They can also have a role in inspecting building and construction and need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the bad products being used, or products and materials being used badly. Evidence of the suitability of a product or material should be sought where necessary.

Developers, builders and other specialist tradespersons 

Developers, Builders and other specialist tradespersons do the work of installing and building with products and materials. They are not the only people responsible for ensuring that conforming and complying products and materials are used, but much of the risk and responsibility falls to them because they are the ones that ultimately do the building work.

They are also the ones most likely to have to do the work of rectifying or remedying problems that arise from using products badly, or using bad products. Therefore before a product or material is used, they should be satisfied as to that components suitability.

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