A looming battle: supply chain building product information reform

October 14, 2022

Marketing material for the promotion and sale of building products will look very different in 2024, or perhaps sooner, if the Building and Construction Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 (NSW) is passed.  

If you’re catching up, I encourage you to read more about proposed new laws for supply chain responsibility for non-compliance building products here. This article relates to the information that must pass about the products as they make their way from the manufacturers to our buildings.

What we can predict is ongoing and monumental battles between the sales/marketing department, and the legal/compliance team, with opposing views about what is the ‘required information’ that each person in the ‘chain of responsibility’ must give for certain building products.  

As proposed, the ‘required information’ will include –  

  • Information about the suitability of the building product for its ‘intended use’.
  • Special circumstances or conditions that must exist for it to be suitable for its intended use.
  • Instructions to ensure that the intended use is not a non-compliant use.
  • Information about the manufacturers requirements to ensure that the product performs or operates correctly.  
  • Where the product is part of a larger system, information about how the system must work as a whole.

As  with the NSW building law reforms of late, the net is cast widely to catch wrongdoers. The obligation to give the required information applies to manufacturers, suppliers, agents, specifiers, and installers. Also, the concept of intended use has been defined widely. It includes uses intended by persons in the chain of responsibility, representations as to suitability made by persons in the chain, and if the use is reasonably foreseeable or likely.

There is a piece of cladding currently on the market that continues to concern many, me included. If these laws are passed, the ‘required information’ will have to look something like this -  

This cladding product is compliant with the NCC. However, you should read our Australian Standards 1530 and 5113 test result certificates and attached conditions dated #### and #### respectively which are available on our website to satisfy yourself about the suitability of the product for your intended purposes and the whole wall scale installation that must be replicated for the product to meet these standards and test results. The product contains filler with combustible properties which air can pass through with chimney like effect. Therefore, it is only fit for its intended purpose when used with fire breaks between the panels as specified in the technical standards for the product.

When required information is necessarily qualified like this, alarm bells will ring. Or at least they ought to. As I have written previously,directors and senior management team executives could face personal liability for safety risks of non-conforming building products, if these laws are passed. To avoid this threat, wise senior leaders and managers will be implementing systems to monitor the small print.  

And one more thing. If the manufacturers and suppliers refuse to give you the test result certificates and reports in their entirety - describing the end-to-end set-up and findings - be very afraid.  

Michael Teys

Strata expert

Michael is a strata expert with over 30 years experience in strata law and management. He is a strata researcher with City Futures Research Centre UNSW, a consultant to strata industry suppliers, and conducts executive education for strata managers and property processionals.