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Releasing a new building product to market

This information is intended to provide guidance to suppliers who are interested in releasing a new building product into the market. Suppliers need to be aware that there are technical standards and requirements that need to be met for building products and that they are responsible for providing information to the buyers of their products about any legal requirements, such as the National Construction Code (NCC) or Australian Standards conformance, along with relevant warranties and support services.

What are a suppliers’ obligations?

Suppliers have an obligation to deliver a product that is fit for purpose. This means that they will need to understand:

  • what will the product be used for and how it should not be used
  • whether the product needs to conform to the NCC
  • what factors need to be considered when demonstrating conformance
  • how evidence of suitability can be presented.

You need to have undertaken the necessary research and development for releasing a new building product onto the market and included product development, testing and refinement.

What will the product be used for?

You will need to consider the use or range of uses that the product is being promoted as suitable for. Perhaps it is a product that is used as a structural element of a home, or serves to seal the home from weather, or it may be designed to minimise the spread of fire in a fire event. The product may offer an alternative solution to a traditional product such as bricks, weatherboards or fibre cement sheeting or could potentially fill a niche in the building product sector.

Regardless of its intended use, you will need to show that the product is ‘fit for purpose’. In addition, you may need to demonstrate that it meets technical standards under the NCC, which are also part of being fit for purpose.

It is important to advise whether there are any potential uses of the product that are not appropriate. For example, vapour barriers (being specific plastic sheeting used in concrete slabs) are required to meet a specific standard under the NCC. Other forms of plastic sheeting can be readily obtained that may have the same appearance, but do not meet the requirements for a vapour barrier.

Conformance with the NCC

As a supplier of a new building product you will need to understand how your building product relates to the NCC. 

It is important to understand and adhere to the Performance Requirements within the NCC and the products that need to provide evidence of conformance generally relate to the structural elements of a home.

The structural elements and verification methods used include, but are not limited to:

  • Concrete – Evidence from concrete supplier, which may include test results
  • Reinforcing (mesh and bar) – Certificate from an engineer or appropriately qualified person, or a certificate from an industry conformance scheme
  • Structural grade timber and laminated veneer timbers – Certificate from industry conformance scheme
  • Structural steel – Certificate from an engineer or appropriately qualified person
  • Structural framing – Certificate from an engineer or appropriately qualified person
  • Timber framing – Certificate from an engineer or appropriately qualified person
  • Windows and glazed doors – Appraisal from an Accredited  Testing Laboratory 
  • Masonry – Product technical information
  • Termite management – Product certification such as Codemark.

Where products are supplied that may influence the weatherproofing, fire safety and energy efficiency of a home you will need to refer to the NCC for the relevant Australian Standard and evidence of proof sought.

How to demonstrate conformance

If the product is a Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution under the NCC, the criteria set out in the conformance documentation can be sourced directly from the NCC itself or the relevant Australian Standard that is referenced in the NCC for that product. 

If the product is going to be a Performance Solution under the NCC, evidence will be sought to demonstrate the criteria used for the alternative solution and to show how the product meets these criteria.

Conformance can be demonstrated through:

  • Product performance – Does the performance of the product conform to the performance requirements for that product type, e.g. a cladding that is water tight?
  • Manufacturing controls – How can users be assured that every product made is to the same specification and quality?
  • Limitations – Where, when and how can the product be used so it is fit for purpose, and are these limitations clearly stated for designers, installers and builders?
  • Maintenance – What are the requirements and their impact on ongoing performance, particularly in relation to durability?

 

How should evidence be presented?

It is not sufficient to simply create a document stating that the product complies with the NCC. Conformance with the NCC needs to be demonstrated by obtaining and then providing appropriate technical documentation about a building product. This may involve independent authorities and in some cases reports from qualified laboratories to verify the product claims.

The NCC sets out the options to demonstrate suitability and conformance of a product (Section A5 Evidence of suitability provisions).
The provisions lists the type of evidence that is required to demonstrate that a product meets a Performance Requirement or Deemed-to-Satisfy Solution. This can be done through one or a combination of the following:

  • A CodeMark Certificate of Conformity
  • Certificate of Accreditation under a state based scheme where one exists i.e. Victorian BRAC Accreditation 
  • A current certificate issued by a product certification body that has been accredited by the Joint Accreditation Scheme of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ)
  • A report issued by an Accredited Testing Laboratory 
  • A certificate from a professional engineer or other appropriately qualified person
  • Another form of documentary evidence, such as a Product Technical Statement, that correctly describes the properties and performance.

Once the product has been found to conform to the NCC you should be able to provide this proof and documentation at the time of supply or where a request has been made, prior to or following supply, to verify the product’s performance under the NCC.

Find out more

Building in Australia is governed by the NCC, which exists as a set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia. The  NCC references Australian Standards, which are technical standards written as a means of detailing an acceptable construction method or manufacturing specification for a product. 

It is important for you to refer to the NCC first and then where referenced, address the Australian Standard that covers your type of product to determine whether it offers any testing procedures.

You could also approach an industry association relevant to your product to seek advice. Bear in mind that these are typically membership-based associations. The building regulator in your state or territory can also provide valuable information.

To find out more, contact HIA’s Building Services team.

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