New rules unify building product standards
From 1 July manufacturers of building products will be obliged to provide more information about their performance.
The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) is intended to harmonise standards across the EU and create a level playing field for cross-border trade.
However, experts are concerned that the regulations, which will be accompanied by mandatory CE marking, will cause confusion among specifiers and raise issues over product performance liabilities.
The CPR replaces the former Construction Products Directive and requires manufacturers and distributors of products to declare the performance of a product across a number of criteria.
They must also affix a CE mark to the product and ensure all relevant information, such as safety guides, instructions and handling and storage information, is readily available.
"For designers and specifiers it's not necessarily very clear what the implications are, particularly when the products are bespoke."
Peter Caplehorn, Scott Brownrigg
The obligations have been written into the Approved Documents of the Building Regulations which were updated earlier in the year.
Peter Caplehorn, technical director of Scott Brownrigg and member of a number of industry technical committees, said: “I think it could be a bit of a nightmare. For designers and specifiers it’s not necessarily very clear what the implications are, particularly when the products are bespoke and designed by the design team.”
Caplehorn cited doors as one area where there was lack of clarity. “In the rest of Europe they don’t specify doors in the way we do, they tend to be all off the production line. We tend to design to a general performance requirement.”
Under these circumstances, he said, it is unclear whether bespoke products would need to be tested to the full range of performance requirements set out in the new regulations, as it may not be feasible to do so for just a small number of components.
“I suspect the RIBA or CIAT will have to produce a guide for members setting out the practicalities of the CPR and the scale of the liability and practical response on a project,” added Caplehorn. “This might be as simple as ensuring the right paperwork is in place – or it might be far more complicated.”
Construction Products Association technical officer Duncan King said the introduction of the CPR was good news for designers because they would ensure that all products would have to “declare their performance” which would provide specifiers with more information. However, though the CPR states that performance should be declared across seven key areas, some of this information would not be available and would be developed in future because the specific regulations, and measurements were not in place.
One example was the area of “sustainable use of natural resources” where there were no baseline method and standards yet for measuring this. “Products have to play catch up, but that’s not unusual,” said King.