Product certification getting closer

This Issue This is a part of the Building materials feature

By - , Build 107

The Department of Building and Housing is working on regulations for the new voluntary building product certification scheme to be launched later this year.

Under the new building product certification scheme, product manufacturers and suppliers will be able to have their products assessed and certified to demonstrate that they meet New Zealand Building Code requirements.

Code compliant nationally

Product certification is designed to provide an easily understood, robust and cost-effective way to demonstrate that a product or method meets the requirements of the New Zealand Building Code.

The use of a certified product or method should give confidence to Building Consent Authorities, designers, builders and consumers that the product or method:

  • conforms with the New Zealand Building Code
  • is capable of performing its intended function
  • should speed up building consent and inspection processes.

Certification is not compulsory but it will provide an effective pathway for manufacturers and suppliers of building products and methods to establish conformity with the New Zealand Building Code.

A certified product or method must be accepted nationally. So, a proprietor of a certified building product or method will not have to seek approval from individual Building Consent Authorities for its use. This will streamline the building consent and inspection process and avoid duplication.

Trans-Tasman CodeMark

The scheme has been developed in close conjunction with the Australian Building Codes Board. The result is a trans-Tasman product certification scheme known as ‘CodeMark’. A number of products have already been certified in Australia, and it is intended that the New Zealand scheme will closely align with the Australian one.

In March 2008, the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) was appointed to oversee the scheme and select organisations to test and certify products.

How the scheme will work

A product manufacturer or supplier will be able to apply to a product certification body for certification that a product or method complies with the New Zealand and/or Australian Building Codes. Any type of building product or method of construction can be submitted for certification.

The product certification body will assess the product or method. Assessment criteria will include product testing results, evaluation, site inspections, manufacturing quality control inspections and a review of the manufacturer’s technical literature.

If the certificate is granted for compliance with the New Zealand Building Code, details of the product certificate and certificate holder are then held on a public register maintained by the Department of Building and Housing.

Other options available

Building product certification is not the only way to provide the appropriate level of information to demonstrate Building Code compliance, but it is likely to be effective for new and innovative products or those with high consequences of failure.

Other methods of demonstrating Building Code compliance include appraisals from independent organisations such as BRANZ.

Who will pay

JAS-ANZ and the product certification bodies will be fully funded from fees paid by companies applying for product certification, so the primary beneficiaries of accreditation and certification bear the direct costs.

Over the coming months, the regulations to define how the scheme runs will be prepared, and the Department will be working on the final steps required to introduce the scheme.

Part of industry changes

Product certification, along with licensing of building practitioners and the accreditation of Building Consent Authorities, are the three pillars of the reforms introduced with the Building Act 2004. The reforms aim to lift building quality and performance, improve skills and professionalism in the sector and promote consistent and timely regulatory decision-making.

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