A recent debate has been circling the building industry around the high volume of cheap imported building materials failing to meet the safety and performance requirements. The issue came to a head last year with 5 major commercial projects facing huge losses and repair bills due to the failure of imported Chinese glass. At 150 Collins Street Melbourne the cost is estimated around $18 million dollars, at the ‘Melburnian’ apartment block a glass replacement bill is expected to be $9 million. The multi-level fire at the Lacross Building in Melbourne’s Docklands highlights how cheap building products can look the same as compliant materials but can dangerously fail.
In a recent article Mr O’Connor from the CFMEU stated “Sub-standard imported building products are flooding the market. Regulators are asleep at the wheel and too many developers are choosing cheap and dangerous over quality and safety.”
As an owner builder you must be aware of your risks and responsibilities for the material you use. Under Australian trade practices act if you import a product you can be deemed the manufacturer, and therefore carry the liability in respect to the performance of that product. To reduce the risk it may be advisable to purchase materials from an Australian Supplier. Many manufacturers supply their own products guarantee and support this with independent testing. Some industry groups such as plumbing fixtures and fittings have their own verification process offering a watermark endorsement. Always ask if the products are accredited and if they have been tested by a registered testing authority.