Quick guide to understanding product technical statements

Use this quick guide to understand what a product technical statement is, what it should to look for in it and assess its credibility, as well as when to expect one from a product manufacturer or supplier.  

A product technical statement will be of particular use to designers, specifiers, trade merchants, councils and others involved in the building process.

What are product technical statements?

Building product manufacturers or suppliers create product technical statements to summarise the need-to-know information about that product. In particular, it includes key details relevant to establishing Building Code compliance (in a digestible format).

The product technical statement is an optional tool developed by the Ministry of Business, Information and Employment (MBIE) in conjunction with the building industry. It can be useful for any building product or system likely to be involved in building work.

Product technical statements can help:

  • designers and specifiers to assess and compare building products, and include them in project plans and specifications
  • building consent authorities to consent building work when products are specified
  • trade merchants to decide whether or not to stock a particular product and, if so, to pass on key product information to their customers
  • builders and homeowners to receive clearer information about installation, maintenance and product support.

A well-prepared product technical statement should save you searching through the manufacturer’s technical information or marketing material to find out what you need to know. This should speed up the process when you are trying to compare product details, specify a product or assess a building consent application.

MBIE also recommends that building consent authorities  give product technical statements weight when making decisions about compliance with the Building Code.

Note:
A product technical statement does not replace the manufacturer’s or supplier’s actual evidence of compliance. It just summarises important details about a building product or system to make it easier for everyone involved.

Development and role of product technical statements

MBIE introduced the concept of product assurance in 2010 to help building product manufacturers and suppliers better understand New Zealand’s building laws and how to demonstrate compliance with the Building Code.

We suggested that a product technical statement would be a useful tool to summarise key information, technical evidence and the relevant compliance pathways for building products and systems. A product technical statement could also be helpful to anybody pursuing different product assurance options, such as gaining a product appraisal or certification.

Since then, changes to the Building Act 2004 (introduced via the Building Amendment Act 2013) that included new sections 14B to 14G have made the obligations of key players in the building industry more explicit.

In particular, section 14G now spells out the responsibilities of a product manufacturer or supplier to ensure their product “will, if installed in accordance with the technical data, plans, specifications, and advice prescribed by the manufacturer, comply with the relevant provisions of the Building Code”.

As a result, the product technical statement has become increasingly relevant. In particular, we suggest:

  • a well prepared product technical statement can bean appropriate way for product manufacturers and suppliers to meet their obligations under section 14G of the Building Act
  • using a product manufacturer or supplier’s product technical statement can help if you are a designer or specifier, as you are responsible (under section 14D) for ensuring that your plans and specifications are sufficient to result in the building work complying with the Building Code, if the building work were properly completed in accordance with those plans and specifications.
  • the product technical statement can form part of the chain of evidence for your decision making, whatever your role or purpose. If you are a building consent authority, the product technical statement and the evidence referenced within it can contribute to your assessment of whether there are reasonable grounds for granting a building consent (under Section 49 of the Building Act).

Key components of a product technical statement

You should find or expect the following key components in a product technical statement:

  • a description of the building product or system (and a unique identifier to make sure different users are talking about the same product) and its intended use
  • details of the manufacturer (if the product technical statement is issued by a supplier)
  • date of issue (or revision) and relevant links so users can confirm they have the latest version
  • purpose and use:
    • a statement of where and how the product can be used, employing recognised New Zealand terms (eg high wind, seismic and corrosion zones) and types of buildings (eg within the scope of New Zealand standard NZS 3604)
    • any limitations on that use of the product
  • conditions on the use of the product technical statement
  • a statement of the relevant Building Code clauses for the product and clear links to evidence to support any compliance claims (eg relevant test reports, technical opinions, product certification details or other supporting information)
  • links to design , construction or installation instructions to help designers specify the product correctly and builders and tradespeople to install it
  • links to maintenance requirements so the building owner can maintain the product effectively, and a clear statement of the potential consequences of not carrying out specified maintenance
  • contact details for technical support; ideally for New Zealand-based organisations that can provide product advice and assistance.
  • warranty information (if applicable).

When to expect a product technical statement

As a general guide, we suggest designers or specifiers include product technical statements with your plans or specifications for critical building components (eg those affecting structure and weathertightness) or for complex, new or unfamiliar products.

If product technical statements are not available, you may consider recommending that the relevant manufacturers or suppliers prepare these to help you specify their products.

If you are a building consent authority, you may receive one or more product technical statements as part of a building consent application. If one is not provided for a particular building product or system and you think this would be helpful for determining on reasonable grounds that the proposed building work complies with the Building Code, you may consider checking with the designer or applicant whether such a product technical statement is available.

Note:
While we encourage manufacturers and suppliers to prepare product technical statements for their products, they are not compulsory. However, as the main purpose of a product technical statement is to communicate key product information, including construction and maintenance details as well as contacts for technical support, it can be a useful document to pass on to others involved in the building process.

What to look for in a product technical statement

A product technical statements, and the evidence of compliance they refer to, can form part of the chain of evidence for your decision making, whatever your role or purpose. In particular, if you are a building consent authority, the product technical statement can help in your assessment of reasonable grounds for granting a building consent.

Note:
The “reasonable grounds” evaluation of the product technical statement should be risk informed. In other words, the evaluation of a product technical statement for a low risk product or one with a minor outcome should it fail, should be simpler than that for a product with a high risk or severe outcome.

Relevance, accuracy and completeness

In deciding how much to rely on a particular product technical statement, we suggest you start by checking its relevance, accuracy and completeness. These checks could include the following:

  • Does the product technical statement contain the key components (listed earlier in this guide) and does it appear accurate and well prepared? Are any omissions significant for your purposes or those of other users? Can you readily source the missing details?
  • Has the product technical statement quoted the relevant Building Code performance clauses, does the purpose and use appear appropriate, and is this clearly stated?

For example: a structural component will have Code clause B1 (structure) obligations and a B2 (durability) obligation of not less than 50 years. As another example, a product that provides some functionality with respect to weathertightness will have E2 (external moisture) and B2 (durability) obligations.

  • Does the product technical statement and its supporting evidence identify the method of achieving compliance with the relevant Code clauses (eg a particular Acceptable Solution, alternative solution etc)?

If you want to use or specify the product:

  • Is your intended use of the product in accordance with the purpose, use and any limitations set out in the product technical statement?
  • Can you follow any design, construction or installation requirements specified in the product technical statement?

If you are a building consent authority and receive this product technical statement as part of a building consent application:

  • Is the product technical statement for the same product specified in the submitted plans and specifications?
  • Is the product being used in accordance with its purpose, use and any limitations set out in the product technical statement?
  • If there are any design requirements in the product technical statement, has the designer followed these in the plans and specifications?
  • If there are any construction or installation requirements in the product technical statement have these been carried through to the plans and specifications? Has this been done in such a way that these requirements will be obvious to, and clearly understood by, anyone carrying out the building work?

Credibility

You can then form a view of the product technical statement’s credibility based on the checks above and additional factors such as:

  • whether or not the company (the manufacturer or supplier issuing the product technical statement) and its product, or similar products, have a successful history of use in New Zealand
  • if not, what track record the company or product has overseas and whether any offshore use of this product is relevant to New Zealand conditions
  • what technical resources the company has in-house or has access to
  • what understanding the company or its advisors have of the role of the building product or system, its effect on other products and New Zealand building conditions.

Supporting evidence

A good product technical statement should provide either the evidence to support the compliance claims or reference these in a way that allows for easy access and checking. In most cases, this will be by a link to a website which has copies of the evidence base (eg test reports, summaries of in- service performance and third party verifications such as product certificates and appraisals).

As noted earlier, how far you go in assessing this evidence will depend on the product. If it is a critical building component (eg relating to structure or weathertightness), you may choose to look at this evidence more closely rather than rely on the manufacturer or supplier’s statement.

Things to consider include:

  • Is the evidence current (ie not likely to be of reduced value because of relevant Code changes or revised testing methodologies)?
  • Does it relate to the product described in the product technical statement?
  • Does it follow appropriate scientific practice and is it produced by a competent person or organisation?

Note:
We also suggest that it is not necessary to check every item of supporting evidence, just some of the more critical evidence.
For example: for a cladding system, it would be advisable to check the evidence relating to weathertightness evidence. For a flooring system used as an access route, it would be advisable to check the evidence relating to slip resistance.

Further help

Product technical statements has more information.

Contact us if you need to discuss product technical statements further.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: