Correct use of building products and appliances

The products and materials you use in buildings and building services must be ‘fit for purpose’. Use of the wrong products can cause significant additional cost – ranging from repairing and replacing products, to life safety risks and building failure.

A building product or material can be non-conforming, non-complying, or both.

What is a non-conforming building product (NCBP)?

Non-conforming building products are products and materials that:

For example, a building product that is labelled or described as being non-combustible but which is combustible.

What is a non-complying building product (NCP)?

Non-complying building products are products and materials that are used in situations where they do not comply with the requirements of the Building Act or other relevant law. This may include products that comply with the relevant standards for a particular use, but have been used in a way they are not suitable for.

For example, a building product that is combustible, and described as such, but is used in a situation where a non-combustible product is required, so it is not fit for purpose and is therefore a non-complying product.

Building, electrical, plumbing and gasfitting laws

Building work

The ACT Building Act 2004 requires that for all building work, even work that does not require a building approval:

For work that requires a building approval, it must also be carried out in accordance with the approved plans. This means that if a particular product or material, or a standard that a material or product must meet, is specified in the approved plans, the builder must use complying products.

An application for building approval must include sufficient information for a building certifier to be satisfied the proposed work will comply with the Building Act, which includes the building code.

The National Construction Code is performance based and does not necessarily mandate that all products meet relevant Australian Standards as long as they are suitable for the purpose they will be used for. However, some compliance pathways may require products to be compliant with prescribed standards.

Types of evidence that can be used to verify that a product conforms and or complies with relevant requirements include:

Other documentary evidence may also be acceptable – there are a range of methods and schemes that can be used to test a building product or material is genuine and will do what it is made to do. A detailed list and description of each of the schemes can be found in the Australian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) Procurement Guide on the APCC website.

Plumbing products

The National Construction Code is performance based and does not necessarily mandate that all products meet relevant Australian Standards. However, some compliance pathways may require products to be compliant with prescribed standards. The National Construction Code also requires certain plumbing products must be certified under the WaterMark Certification Scheme. Compliant products will have a WaterMark Certificate of Conformity.

Search for certified products in the WaterMark Product Database.

Prescribed electrical equipment and wiring

All electrical wiring work must meet AS/NZS 3000. Prescribed articles of electrical equipment must also be certified before they can be installed in the ACT. There are nationally consistent requirements for certification of prescribed articles, which are coordinated by the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council.

Search the certified product database.

Gas appliances

An appliance that uses natural gas or LPG and is manufactured, adapted or designed for connection to a consumer piping system must meet and be approved and certified against relevant Australian Standards before it can be sold or installed in the ACT.

Search the National Database of Certified Gas Appliances and Components.

Consumer product safety laws

The safety of consumer products and product-related services is governed by the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

In simple terms:

Some building products and materials may not be covered by the ACL product safety system if they are not ordinary consumer goods.

The ACL is adopted nationally through state and territory fair trading legislation.

Find out more on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Product Safety website.

Ensuring building products conform and comply

To help reduce and mitigate risks and issues associated with non-conforming and non-complying building products, it is important to be aware of the relevant codes, technical standards and local laws.

Everyone involved in the manufacture, supply or installation of building products has a role to play in ensuring the right products and materials are used in the right way in a building project.

You may also have specific obligations or duties to check and assure that the right products and materials are used, and are used correctly. For example, licensed builders, electricians, plumbers and gasfitters have specific responsibilities to ensure the products they use meet relevant laws and may need to rectify any work that is not compliant. Building certifiers also have responsibilities to approve, inspect and certify building work, which may include checking the compliance and suitability of some building products for the work they will be used in.

If you are directly involved in the purchasing of products and materials, either as a homeowner, or as an industry practitioner, you need to have a clear understanding of the various requirements that apply to those products and materials and the evidence required to demonstrate compliance and conformance of those components.

Some measures that can be taken include:

If you are concerned that a building product used or installed in the ACT does not meet relevant ACT laws, it is recommended that you first contact the supplier, licensee or practitioners involved in the relevant work. If you cannot resolve the issue contact us.

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