The Australian Institute of Architects tackles non-conforming products

The Australian Institute of Architects has joined other major players in the construction industry trying to address significant issues with non-conforming products that may be being used in projects across the country.

The Institute is part of the Construction Product Alliance Group, which has written to state and territory planning and building ministers, and the federal industry minister, Ian MacFarlane, ahead of the annual Building Ministers Forum on 31 July 2015. The Building Ministers Forum oversees the regulation of the building and plumbing industries on a national level.

The Construction Product Alliance Group is made up of over 40 representative industry groups, including Engineers Australia, the Australian Institute of Building, the Australian Steel Institute and the Housing Industry Association.

The requests put forward in the letter to the ministers include the establishment of a government/industry taskforce and a review of evidence of suitability criteria in the National Construction Code by the Australian Building Codes Board.

The Australian Institute of Architects CEO David Parken explained the Institute’s involvement.

“It’s pretty complex and there is a lot of activity around it and the Institute is trying to be part of the conversation,” he said.

“There are so many players in the industry, because this covers everything from the product manufacturers through to the distribution chain, builders, subcontractors, designers, architects, engineers, certifiers, regulatory bodies, local councils and then ultimately the community.”

“It’s a very broad spectrum of stakeholders that are involved, and we’re trying to be part of the conversation to make suggestions about how to improve outcomes,” he said.

One of the key case studies that has in part prompted action on non-conforming building products was the national recall of Infinity electrical cable in August 2014, which was found to have a poor quality plastic insulation coating. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission estimated that 40,000 households and businesses may have been affected by the potentially dangerous product.

A separate Senate inquiry into non-conforming building products was referred to the Senate Economics References Committee on 23 June 2015 by independent senators Nick Xenophon, Jackie Lambie and John Madigan.

The inquiry aims to explore the impacts of non-conforming building products on the overall quality of Australian buildings, workplace safety and the economic impact on the construction and building industry as a whole. It will also examine areas for improvement in the current regulatory framework for ensuring that products are compliant.

Submissions for the inquiry are open until 3 August, and the committee is due to report by 12 October 2015.

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