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Non-conforming Building Products and Residential Construction

The use of non-conforming building products in the housing sector has been a growing problem for the industry for a number of years. With an increasing number of products being manufactured offshore, and increased access to these products by individuals, the need to focus on compliance has never been greater.

The recall of Infinity electrical cables in 2014 by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission highlighted the need for all levels of government and industry to focus on the most appropriate methods to manage building and construction product compliance in Australia.

Product sectors such as plumbing and sanitary ware, electrical fittings, windows, engineered wood and steel reinforcing all have numerous examples of fraudulent certification and product marking being used.

Products that don’t meet Australian standards can cause significant economic loss to the economy through underperformance and the costs of rectification. Worse, they can be a risk to the health and safety of builders, employees and consumers.

What is clear is that over the last decade there has been a shift in the supply chain to increase offshore sources along with the decreasing level of local manufacturing of these products. Combined with this shift, the ease of purchasing online has brought into the market a plethora of less educated buyers, sourcing small quantities, who do not have the knowledge to ensure products are fit for purpose. Once these products are in the supply chain, the provenance is lost and seeking a remedy when a problem arises becomes extremely difficult.

The extent of the problem, and the impact on specific product sectors, has been significant enough to warrant a number of discrete industry led certification schemes to be established in the Australian market, including windows, reinforcing steel and engineered wood. Regulated certification schemes currently only exist for plumbing products (WaterMark) and electrical products (Electrical Equipment Safety Scheme – recently introduced and not national).

The industry is also concerned that manufacturers who do the right thing are being disadvantaged against those fail to test and confirm that products meet Australia’s compliance standards. The evolution of compliance and enforcement in Australia appears to have not kept pace with changes to our economy, global supply chains, and how or where products are manufactured or sourced.

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HIA Response to NCBP
Industry Action on NCBP