In the age of fake news, the building industry has encountered its fair share of falsehoods. There has been an increasing volume of misappropriate behaviour – be it in the filing of false evidence to support regulatory conformance or the use of inferior-quality materials. This consequently puts the profile of Australian buildings at risk. And it undermines the trust of building clients towards the industry at large and compromises the general safety of the public.
To combat such unsavoury practices, NATSPEC has launched the National Construction Product Register (NCPR), a searchable online database of construction products that the organisation has vetted and approved for inclusion. Supported by both the government and industry, the initiative puts in place a risk-assessment process via which NATSPEC authenticates construction products for which demonstrable evidence of conformity to prevailing standards has been provided.
Part of the process involves identifying – and rejecting – products that are accompanied by fraudulent certificates or doctored documents. Unfortunately, this practice is rife in an industry where a variety of product alternatives has spawned the common practice of product substitution. The NCPR can help to check whether a product substitution meets the same standard as that originally specified.
To save time verifying product documentation, the NCPR provides the following details of each product that meets the NATSPEC’s authentication standards:
- Product name
- Standard detail
- Report detail
- Note and limitations
- Evidence of authenticity
- Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) accreditation
- Other standards.
For high-risk products, NATSPEC stresses the importance of seeking additional product certification details, including: manufacturing controls, limitations on the use of products and maintenance requirements.
It is important to note, however, the difference between what the Australian Building Codes Board defines as non-conforming building products (NCBPs) and the National Construction Code’s definition of non-compliant products (NCPs). The NCPR focuses on conformance, not compliance.
Because NATSPEC is not a CAB, it relies on external conformity assessments. A national not-for-profit organisation, NATSPEC is impartial and not involved in advocacy or policy development.