Full rollout of new certification system was delayed by two and a half years in December but many key issues left unresolved

A workable plan for the UK’s new construction product certification system will need to be in place a year before the system comes into force, an industry leader has warned.

Construction Products Association chief executive Peter Caplehorn said manufacturers will need an extra 12 months to prepare for the UKCA marking system “because that’s how long the industry needs to properly organise and get sorted”.

Last month, the government announced a two and a half year delay to the full rollout of the post-Brexit rules just two weeks before they were due to come into force.

The UKCA marking will now not be required for construction products until 30 June 2025. It is intended to replace the existing Europe-wide CE mark which has been in use since the 1980s.

Under the new system, new or upgraded products will be illegal to sell on the UK market unless they have been tested in this country.

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Peter Caplehorn said the new certification rules need to be finalised a year before the deadline to give manufacturers time to get ready

But there remains a severe shortage of testing capacity for some key products including glass and sealants despite the government announcing the plans more than three years ago.

There was still no solution in place to address the testing shortfall when the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) announced the delay in December.

Caplehorn said: “We need that delay, and it may sound like a lot of time but it isn’t, and what I would like to try and do this time round is to immediately discount the last year because that’s how long the industry needs to properly organise things and get sorted.

“If we establish the fact that we need to have proper solutions in place within a year and a half, that gives us a sense of realism as to how to tackle what we need to do.”

He said detailed conversations with the government over the next 18 months are needed to clarify “exactly what their aspirations are but also what is achievable across industry”.

“We still don’t have any answers to increasing capacity of testing and certification in the UK and therefore how exactly are we going to get all these products retested and recertified if that indeed is what we need to do? 

“I would like to see us exploring all sorts of other solutions that will get the answers that the government wants but also get some practical solutions for the industry.”

>>See also: Construction faces new certification crisis

>>See also: Two and a half year respite for construction products as government finally provides CE mark clarity

Caplehorn has previously the decision to delay had avoided a “potentially catastrophic situation” that would have seen a “gradual attrition” for the industry as products essential for the completion of projects dropped out of the marketplace.

DLUHC has been criticised over its handling of the transition to the new system and for not clearly explaining to the testing sector what the new rules required.

The Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA), which operates the UK’s only testing facility for radiators, said in November that it had ignored the department’s instructions to expand testing capacity.

Technical director Tom Garrigan said BSRIA had been told by ministers to expand its capacity but had “opted not to because we didn’t think there was a plan and that’s transpired to be the case”.

The organisation had calculated that testing all radiators on the UK market to the new regime would have taken 64 years.

DLUHC has been approached for comment.