When you spend money on materials and building systems, you want to know that the end result will be hard-wearing and fulfill its function.
We point to processes that give quality assurances for products and systems, and we discuss warranties and what you can do if a product does not perform as required.
Choosing building materials
Before buying building materials, you should seek professional advice that the products comply with the Building Code. There are various quality assurance systems in place, but unless they relate back to the Building Code, they are of no value for building consent purposes.
In this section we discuss two systems of quality assurance - Product Certification by a product certification accreditation body and Appraisal by the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ). When you apply for building consent, a building consent authority must accept products with Product Certification. Products assessed under another system, such as the BRANZ appraisal system, will only be accepted for building consent approval if the building consent authority is satisfied, on reasonable grounds, as to Building Code compliance.
Certification of products and building methods
Some products, materials, or methods of design or construction may be certified by a product certification accreditation body as meeting New Zealand Building Code standards.
If you see the distinctive CODEMARK® logo you can be assured that the particular product, material or building method will be accepted by your building consent authority when you apply for building consent. Building consent authorities must permit the use of a certified product (provided it is to be used in accordance with specified conditions).
Product Certification is not mandatory and there are many products, materials and methods available that meet required standards but which don’t carry the logo. Building consent authorities will consider these on a case-by-case basis when you apply for building consent.
BRANZ product and system appraisals
The Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) has a system of appraising building products, materials, systems or methods of design or construction. The products and systems submitted by manufacturers must meet rigorous criteria comprising:
- Compliance with the Building Code.
- Compliance with other non-Building Code performance requirements.
- Assessment of the manufacturing process and quality control system used in manufacture.
- Examination of the technical literature for compliance with the Building Code, the BRANZ Appraisal Certificate for the product or system, and any other legislation, for example, the Consumer Guarantees Act.
- Installation, service performance and maintenance based on consideration of the buildability and suitability of the product or system for use.
Those products and systems that meet the criteria are issued an Appraisal Certificate if BRANZ is satisfied that all the criteria have been satisfactorily met. On the certificate it records whether the Appraisal is of a product or a system. The certificate also points out the responsibilities of the designer in designing a building system using that product.
BRANZ Appraisal Certificates are commonly accepted by building consent authorities in building consent applications.
When there are changes to the Building Code which may affect the criteria for appraisal, each building consent authority must decide on a case by case basis whether to continue to accept the Appraisals as complying with the updated Building Code requirements.
A full listing of Appraisals current at any time can be seen on the BRANZ website.
A note about product warranties
Clause B2.2 of the Building Code provides that building materials, components and construction methods must be durable throughout the life of the building. For example, materials fulfilling a structural role must last for at least 50 years. The building envelope, exposed plumbing in the subfloor space, and in-built chimneys and flues must last at least 15 years, and services, interior claddings, renewable protective coatings, and fixtures must last for at least five years.
When you are choosing products, ask about warranties - they should give an indication as to how long the manufacturer expects the product to last. You won’t find many 50-year warranties so select products with a good track record. Check to see if they have accreditation under the Building Act, or meet ISO (International Standardisation Organisation) standards. (ISO is an internationally recognised standards system.)
Be guided by your designer or builder. They may have favourite products that they like and are familiar with. But look at all the options. Innovations are occurring in technology and the building industry all the time, so don’t shut out opportunities to try products that may suit your requirements.
Be careful that the products are installed to manufacturers’ specifications and by approved applicators. These days, building products are often part of a system where the manufacturer specifies which fixing, filler and coating should be used. This is particularly important for cladding systems, especially monolithic cladding systems. If the product is not installed as specified, the warranty may be void and the product may not even comply with the Building Code. Substituting parts of a system specified in the building consent, or incorrectly installed systems could prevent a code of compliance certificate being issued. So make sure your installer is trained to install the particular product.
It is a good idea to keep all copies of the manufacturer's instructions and warranties for your own information, and to pass on to subsequent purchasers. Keep a copy of the building contract as well, as it may be important if you need to invoke the implied warranties in the contract, should you discover problems later on.
Making decisions for the long-term
When you are choosing products, think long-term. If you have to repair or renovate, and want to match the original product, consider how likely it is that you will be able to get the same product. Find out how long the manufacturer has been in business, whether the product is locally available or if you have to order it from elsewhere.
Remedies for faulty products and services
If you find that products you buy and install in your house are faulty, or do not live up to the manufacturer’s representations, you may have a remedy under the Consumer Guarantees Act or the Fair Trading Act.
The Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 provides that goods and services must meet certain guarantees. In most cases, the manufacturer or the trader is bound by these guarantees. If the goods and services don’t meet these standards, you may have remedies under the Act.
The Fair Trading Act 1986 prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct, and false or misleading representations. It applies to anyone in trade and to the goods or services they sell, or offer for sale. Where a trader breaches the Fair Trading Act and you suffer a loss as a result, you can claim your losses from the trader through the Courts or a Disputes Tribunal.
In the Building Act 2004 a warranty that work will be done competently and using suitable building materials is implied in all building contracts.