Marley Eternit discusses piracy of fittings and specifier liability
It is an unfortunate by-product of modern life that the fear of litigation and the effects of a ‘compensation culture’ have grown rapidly over recent years. Both the general public and the business world are now far more attuned to not just accepting their fate, and will often demand recourse if they feel wronged.
The construction industry is not immune from this. With an increase in litigation an unfortunate side-effect of recession, architects and specifiers need to ensure they are doing all they can to minimise the risk of claims being brought against them, both during and after build completion, when, for instance, an architect may no longer even be practicing.
To guard against this, it is important for architects and specifiers to pay even closer attention to all aspects of specified manufactured products, ensuring peace of mind when it comes to achieving the highest level of product performance, quality and durability and therefore minimising the potential for later claims.
Inextricably linked to the safe specification of products is the rise across the construction industry of pirated goods. Piracy is common in many areas of life ranging from DVDs to counterfeit fashion labels and cosmetics. In such instances it is often only low level finances and pride that are affected as the product’s true identity is uncovered. But when, for instance, piracy starts to adversely affect the safety and integrity of the building envelope it really is time to sit up and take notice – or face serious consequences in the future.
In Marley Eternit’s own experience, we have seen increased evidence of the use of pirated or imitation roofing-related products and accessories such as sub-standard stop end ridges and roof ventilation systems. This has led to concerns that projects could be compromised and issues of performance and safety brought sharply into focus.
The risks for the specifier are obvious. The producers of pirated goods might be skilled at making the products appear to match original proprietary manufactured components, but they often offer significantly inferior performance when in use, as they will often lack the overall engineering characteristics and quality assurance of a genuine product from a reputable and accredited manufactured source.
Other issues linked to the use of pirated or imitation products could include invalidating any warranty linked to the roof – a serious and potentially highly expensive situation should the specification process be found to have knowingly procured a pirated roof component or accessory. In addition to compromising a roof’s long-term performance, more immediate concerns such as the potential for sub-standard stop end ridges to become loose and fall from structures opens up real safety-related issues and the pathway to long running litigation for injury claims and damaged reputations.
There are a few easy steps specifiers can take to ensure the product selection process is not undermined. Seeking assurances from their contractor partner that only the genuine specified manufacturer’s products are used is a start. They should also note that properly constructed products manufactured by reputable organisations will come complete, often with additional accessories, and all components will be securely assembled, as well as being of uniform appearance in terms of colour and texture. For example, tile vents produced by Marley Eternit come with a soaker tray that when fitted is designed to divert rainwater away from the vent, whereas pirated vents do not provide this.
It is in the specifiers interest that no short-cuts are taken when it comes to product choice and that only the products you have asked for – regardless of any perceived cost savings via the pirated route – are the ones actually used in the construction phase. Taking the time and effort to undertake these checks could well save a lot of heartache in the long run.
Ultimately, the safest method is to adopt a holistic approach to specification. This encourages the purchase of a wide range of roofing products and accessories from a single manufacturer - an option that totally reduces future risks and provides a ‘one stop shop’ solution, both at the time of construction and for any future issues.
As the market leading roofing manufacturer, Marley Eternit, has an extensive range of products including slates, clay and concrete tiles alongside a comprehensive selection of fittings and accessories. Our Universal systems for example can be used in conjunction with all of our ranges and across all key roof construction details including eaves, verge, valley, hip, abutment and ridge. And, in addition to the reassurance that you are specifying the highest quality products available, our customers can benefit from our ‘cradle to grave’ approach to service, ensuring that they feel fully supported throughout every stage of a build, even after completion.
For example, specifiers can access a wealth of technical expertise from across the team, take advantage of a number of added value services such as our site surveys and access a broad range of online technical services and resources. These include the popular roofing product selector tool, designed to assist the selection of roofing accessories and our Specrite tool which enables specifiers to produce instant NBS clauses that meet the recommendations of British Standards and Codes of Practices for the Marley Eternit range of tiles, slates, fittings and accessories.
By taking this partnership approach, not only will worries relating to product performance be eradicated at source, but the potential for any future damaging legal comeback as a result of liability responsibilities on a project will be largely negated by ensuring that crucial areas of construction are safely delivered.