What does the Construction Products Regulation mean for the building inspector?

Below you will find some key points of the Construction Product Regulation (EU) No 305/2011 and the national Land Use and Building Act (132/1999) discussed in relation to frequently asked questions from the building inspector’s point of view.

 

What is the purpose of the CE-marking?

The purpose of the CE-marking is to improve mobility of construction products within the European economic area.

 

What does the CE-marking stand for?

By affixing the CE-marking on the construction product the manufacturer states that the product characteristics are declared as required by harmonised product standard (hEN) or European technical approval or assessment.

 

The CE-marking is a consistent way of declaring product performance. When a construction product characteristics are measured, classified and declared the same way with similar products, it is easier to compare construction product characteristics to the requirements. Together, these characteristics form product performance.

 

What are the benefits of the CE-marking?

The CE-marking enables a uniform comparison between product characteristic values declared by the manufacturer and property requirements set for a product at the construction project. Requirements set for a product come from construction site planning solutions that must fulfil the requirements of national construction legislation.

 

With the help of the CE-marking, designer and construction product purchaser find it easier to estimate the compatibility of a construction product and construction site. The marking makes comparing construction products with one another easier, as well.

 

Therefore, the CE-marking itself does not guarantee that the product complies with any national requirements.

 

Which products require a CE-marking?

A construction product must be CE-marked when it belongs within the scope of application of a harmonised standard (hEN) after the transition period or when the manufacturer has applied and been granted European technical assessment (ETA) for the product. Other construction products must not be CE-marked under the Construction Products Regulation.  For harmonised standards (hEN) and their transition periods, please refer to hEN Helpdesk.

 

If the harmonised product standard does not allow CE-marking, the manufacturer has the option of acquiring the CE-marking (for declaring product characteristics for export or domestic markets, for example) after the European technical assessment (ETA). This so called ETA procedure is introduced in more detail at the Ministry of the Environment website.

 

Article 5 of the Construction Products Regulation defines specific circumstances for relaxing the responsibility to acquire the CE-marking. Naturally, this does not mean exemption from national requirements on construction products and attestation of their validity if such is demanded.

 

What does transition period mean in regard to harmonised standard?

The harmonised product standard includes the annex ZA, and information on the approval and transition period of the standard is published in the Official Journal of the European union. The hEN Helpdesk has information on each standard and transition period of each version. Usually the transition spans one year, although there are some exceptions. As long as transition is on-going, CE-marking is voluntary.

 

Even if the transition period of the newest version of the harmonised product standard was on-going, the transition may have ended for the previous version. Therefore, CE-marking is obligatory even in such cases.

 

What does article 5 of the Construction Products Regulation describe?

Exemption from obligation to CE-mark the product can be granted e.g. under article 5. However, this does not mean that the construction product would, then, be automatically released from any approval obligations. For example the building supervision authority may even then demand building site specific attestation of product validity.

 

What other ways there are besides the CE-marking for demonstrating the validity of the product?

Some construction products currently in use cannot be CE-marked today nor over the long term.

 

The requirement to CE-mark all construction products in use is impossible to carry out as not all products are available as CE-marked. The obligation to CE-mark expands as more and more harmonised standards (hEN) are completed and they are assigned a transition period. The use of CE-marking will also expand through manufacturers acquiring the European technical assessment (ETA) for their products.

 

In Finland, there are three different legal procedures for attesting the validity of some central construction products that are without the CE-mark at present .These national procedures are voluntary, and are used to demonstrate that the product fulfils the requirements of the Land Use and Building Act or provisions laid down in the Act. In addition, procedure involving building site specific attestation of product validity can be used. The national Act on the Approval of Certain Construction Products enters into force on 1 July 2013 and also the specifying Decree is intended to be implemented on July. The procedures described in the Act will not even initially be applicable to all construction products. Because of this, other procedures besides those issued under the Act will be used for declaring and attesting product characteristics. Local supervision of building will decide on the approval of these procedures on a case-specific basis.

 

In this image there is further information on how to demonstrate conformity.

 

Does the product certificate not replace the CE-marking?

The CE-marking cannot be replaced with any product certificate or similar arrangement. Voluntary, national markings or labelling cannot cover the characteristics within the CE-marking. Voluntary product certificates can be used instead to supplement the CE-marking if they cover something that is unrelated to the essential characteristics of the construction product.

 

Why does the building supervision need to get involved with checking the CE-markings, isn’t that Tukes’s responsibility?

Co-operation of the building supervision and the market surveillance authority is already mentioned in the section 181 of the Land Use and Building Act:

 

"…The local building supervision authority shall monitor the use of construction products and notify the competent ministry of any incorrect use of the CE marking.”

In Finland, Ministry of the Environment has named Tukes as the authority responsible for market surveillance. On the Tukes website there is a particular form that makes suspected non-conformity easy to report.

 

Tukes monitors construction products and the building supervision authority their use in building.