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Client-supplied products: What should a builder check?

The information here is intended to provide builders with guidance on how to manage a contract where the client supplies, and perhaps installs, a product that is required to comply with the National Construction Code (NCC) . This scenario is becoming increasing common in the building sector, with clients often attempting to save money by buying either online or directly from a manufacturer.

Builders need to be aware how to legally protect themselves in cases where clients supply their own products so that they can comply with the terms of their contract and the NCC.

The building contract

It is essential that the building contract details all the items that a client has elected to take on responsibility for in relation to supply and/or installation of a product. This will ensure that everyone knows what they are responsible for and limit the potential for disputes if there are any problems with the product or workmanship. 

What to consider

You should explain to the client that where the product needs to comply with the NCC they are legally obliged to supply and/or install a conforming product, which may include documentation that verifies a product’s conformance.

Should non-conforming product/s be supplied by the client, this has the potential to delay work and may permit the builder to claim delayed costs from the client. If the matter cannot be resolved there is also the potential that the final certification (occupancy certificates, etc) could be withheld by the building surveyor.

If you are installing a product supplied by the owner you should ensure you obtain evidence of conformance with the NCC prior to installation. Asking after the work has been completed may be too late. 

You should explain to the client that should any costs be incurred for replacement of non-conforming products and/or delays in the construction schedule due to the non-conforming issue they will be liable for such costs. 

Ensuring product compliance

It is important to understand and adhere to the conformance requirements within the NCC. This generally relates to the structural elements, weatherproofing, fire safety and energy efficiency of a home.

The structural elements and verification methods 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 a 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.

Non-compliance with the BCA

If a product supplied by the client does not include information that demonstrates conformance with the NCC, the safest option for you as the builder is not to install it and to put the onus on the client to provide you with evidence.

You may need to consider temporarily suspending the contract until the issue is resolved, which can delay your work schedule.

Always remember – to help reduce issues arising during a building contract it is important to clearly detail and communicate to the client both their obligations when supplying and/or installing a product and your obligations and rights as the builder.

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

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