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Construction Products Regulation

The new Construction Products Regulation came into force on 1 July 2013 and is set to have a major effect on all levels of the construction industry. Robert Calnan reviews the Regulation and looks at the impact on construction professionals.

Introduction

On 1 July 2013, the EU Construction Products Regulation (No. 305/2011) (‘CPR’) came into force, laying down harmonised conditions for the sale and supply of construction products. The EU regulation has been directly incorporated into British law by the Construction Products Regulation 2013. The venerable Construction Products Association have described it as “the most significant change for a decade in the way in which construction products are sold in Europe” and it will have a major effect on all levels of the construction industry, from manufacturers to end-users.

Construction products

Construction Products are defined as any product or kit (two or more products which are put together) placed on the market for incorporation in a permanent manner in construction works, the performance of which affects the performance of the construction works with respect to the seven Basic Requirements for Construction Works:

  • Mechanical resistance and stability
  • Safety in case of fire
  • Hygiene, health and the environment
  • Safety and accessibility in use
  • Protection against noise
  • Energy economy and heat retention
  • Sustainable use of natural resources

Key provisions

The four key provisions in the CPR are:

  • A system of harmonised technical specifications.
  • An agreed system of conformity assessment for each product family.
  • A framework of notified bodies.
  • CE Marking of products. This is a declaration by the manufacturer that the product to which the CE marking is applied meets all appropriate European Legislation.

The CPR aims to replace conflicting national standards with harmonised European standards (hENs). hENs contain product characteristics, procedures which must be carried out to ensure conformity and the process for CE marking. A list of hENs for different product types is appended to the CPR.

Manufacturers will be required to make Declarations of Performance (DoPs) that the products they are selling conform to the relevant hENs. In addition, CE Marking will allow a product to be legally placed on the market in any EU Member State and will be a further indication that the product being sold is consistent with the harmonised standards.

It is intended that hENs will become key for manufacturers when declaring performance, for local authorities when specifying requirements for construction products in regulations and specifications and also for architects, engineers and builders when choosing construction products for use on projects.

It is important to note that the CPR does not harmonise national building regulations. The UK, like other Member States, remains free to set its own minimum requirements on the performance of building works and construction products incorporated into such works.

Effect on construction professionals

The proliferation of harmonised European product standards will require an adjustment for the construction industry in this country. Previously, British standards were prescriptive both in relation to performance levels and in relation to the uses of specific products. The hENs provide harmonised testing methods, declaration methods and conformity assessment rules, rather than rigid standards. This should make it easier to compare and contrast specific materials, whilst being aware that certain baseline standards have been met.

The CPR concerns itself with the conditions which apply when placing a product on the market, so whilst construction professionals must be aware, for example, of the harmonised technical specifications and be willing to review the manufacturer’s declaration of performance to ensure performance meets their requirements, they are also required to ensure compliance with national Building Regulations. Whilst it is intended that national authorities will have regard to hENs, which may have a knock-on effect on Building Regulations, responsibility for ensuring that a product has the correct characteristics for a particular use or project remains the responsibility of the individual designer or contractor.

Contact

For further information please contact Robert Calnan, Solicitor on +44 (0)20 7220 5217 or email robert.calnan@dwffishburns.co.uk

By Robert Calnan

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This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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