Compliance!!! (well, sort of)

The process of bringing a new and novel product to Australia is challenging and certainly daunting. The reality is that 80% of the process is daunting, the other 20% challenging.

The issue is there is no body, business or authority who explain or help the process. So this would scare the majority of innovators away from the task, as it is very hard to find out what really needs to be done. Luckily for Atomic 6, our determination pushed through these fears or unknowns with the naive hope that there would be a favourable outcome at the end.

Along this process we have been telling those close to this process (mainly clients entrusting our ability to bring this to fruition), that we are working on 'COMPLIANCE', or 'CERTIFICATION'. Now that we are at the end of this process I can tell you this is not how it works...

(spoiler alert - we have our 'compliance', I am more telling you why it isnt as simple as certificate you may hang from a wall).

Compliance or certification is more related to 'Codemark' which is certification of a product. This is applied for, then assessed etc then issued with a Codemark certification which means this product can now be sold to the mass market. For example a fire rated panel. Once certified, it can now be sold (at Bunnings) along with a specs / installation manual and everyone is happy.

However, we haven't developed just a fire rated panel, we have developed a complete system. So should we (which we cant) get a Codemark accreditation for our system, how could they possibly certify a building that would be placed anywhere in many different situations. There are soil conditions, fire, adjoining properties, engineering loading etc. So this has to be the job of a building surveyor. Each and every building needs to be assessed and approved based on a checklist of documentation.

At the beginning of this process we were told that we needed to have our system approved via a relatively new process in the building code called a 'Performance Solution'. So for the past 15 months we have been trying to get more information and simple emails answered from building surveyors who specialise in performance solutions. 10 days ago our nominated building surveyor came to our factory and saw our production process, the materials, etc and very quickly clarified this major concern we had...

"A performance solution is only required where our building or elements of the building do not or cannot meet the standards of the BCA"

Our system smashes the requirements of the BCA! So there is and was no need for performance solutions. So after an in depth discussion with our building surveyor, the result for what is needed for a building permit is quite simple:

  1. energy rating certificate - a qualify and approved energy rater takes the data we achieved from the CSIRO testing and creates a 6 - star energy rating report.

  2. engineering certificate - a civil engineer uses the data from Deakin Uni testing regime and performs and certifies the building as per normal

  3. fire rating certificate - if the building surveyor is satisfied with the data from the fire testing from CSIRO then OK, if not the data can be certified by an independent fire engineer which will then be accepted by the building surveyor.

  4. typical certificates (same for any house in Australia)

  • glazing

  • electrical

  • plumbing

  • insulation

  • HVAC

So the reality is we were ready to start production earlier than we first thought. The above is only for a class 1 (residential houses), not commercial work. We are currently working on commercial which is more complex, but based on same principals - so we are fully aware and in control of this process.

We are currently awaiting for building permits to be issued on 9 dwellings. The funny thing is that all our composite innovation is sorted, we are only waiting on neighbours / council and the political items which seems incredibly hard compared to creating a whole new way of building...

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