Imported building products coming into New Zealand that are not covered by standards is a worrying trend in the roofing industry, says Roofing Association of New Zealand (RANZ) CEO Graham Moor.
“We’re having products coming into the roofing market that don’t have a standard attached, or there isn’t a standard available for some of these products, and that’s a problem for the consumer, ultimately.”
He says the consumer might purchase a product which they believe to be fit for purpose, and while there is some onus on the manufacturer or importer that it must perform to the building code, unless there’s an accepted standard, there is no way the consumer can know it’s going to perform.
“The only way they can find out it is not going to perform, is when they use it on your building and it fails, which is a nonsense.”
He says RANZ’s concerns regarding this issue is not about being anti-imports, or anticompetition, it’s about being able to ensure that anything used in the New Zealand market is fit for purpose and people know that a product can perform in a New Zealand environment.
He says for consumers it can be confusing as products can look similar but will not necessary perform to the same standard. “Consumers are not necessarily able to tell the difference. Substandard stuff is making its way onto the market and consumers need to be aware that product substitution does go on, that another product that looks similar may have been used in their building.”
Graham says that often the only way you can tell if a product is fit for purpose is the price.
“That old chestnut is true – you tend to get what you pay for. You may be lucky and the cheaper product may work, but the building industry shouldn’t rely on luck.” He says consumers also need to be aware that if they do use materials that fail after the building is sold they could be liable, whether they were aware that lesser quality products were used or not.
Another issue of concern is that many of the existing standards are now out of date, and even reputable companies may be using products with out of date standards.
While this might not mean the product is faulty, he says it is an area that should be addressed.
RANZ, as part of New Zealand Specialist Trade Contractors Federation (NZSTCF), has been lobbying government and expressing their concerns on this issue.
Graham says the association wants action to be taken before any problems arise, rather than waiting for a disaster to happen then
stepping in to fix it.
He says the Standards Authority, which is part of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, is underfunded. NZSTCF is advocating one percent of the cost of building consent should go towards ensuring standards.
“There’s been a lot of noise around cost of building, but what has been the cost around the leaky building crisis. If one percent had been used for standards, then we might not have had a crisis.”
He says it’s not just about money, it’s about people’s safety. “It would be terrible if it took a tragedy like the fire in London, before people stood back and said ‘how did that happen?’, but it seems we have to wait until something fails before we take action.”