[Johannesburg, 20 December 2016]: As the South African construction market experiences a shortage of structural timber, imports of the material have become necessary and are on the rise. In the light of this, the Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA) stresses that all imported structural timber destined for – and employed by – the South African market must be compliant with local legislation.

National Building Regulations require that all structural timber is compliant with SANS 1783, which covers sawn softwood timber, and both national and international manufacturers of structural timber supplied to the South African market are expected to be certified by a South African-based ISO 17065-accredited certification body. This also applies to South Africa’s neighbouring countries, like Swaziland and Zimbabwe, for example.

“Even so, it is not uncommon for non-compliant structural timber to be imported and supplied to the local market – including to formal roof truss manufacturers – without there being any knowledge of the integrity of the finger joints, adhesive used, or the grading of the timber,” remarks Abe Stears, Managing Director of the South African Technical Auditing Services (SATAS). “Worse so, when a batch of non-compliant imported timber is rejected by a buyer, it is commonplace for that timber to simply be sold on to another unsuspecting buyer. In this way, non-compliant imported timber for structural applications may still find its way into the South African market,” he says.

Note: Presently, only SATAS and the South Africa Bureau of Standards (SABS) are accredited to certify manufacturers of products in compliance with SANS 1783.  

“It is both unfair and unacceptable to expect local manufacturers to comply at a cost with the requirements to ensure that a quality product is supplied to the end user, while non-compliant imported timber is allowed to be used in structural components. Even though South Africa is experiencing a shortage of structural timber that necessitates the use of imports, we have to ensure that the same rules apply to this timber, and that all timber coming into the South African structural timber market is in compliance with SANS 1783,” says Stears.

“All industry professionals who make use of structural timber are urged not only to be aware of national legislation around the use of structural timber, but to not make use of any imported – or locally produced, for that matter – timber that does not comply with South African standards and requirements,” he concludes.

The Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA) is the engineered timber structure industry’s professional body in South Africa, whose mission it is to create and maintain the highest standards in the sector. If you have any questions or queries call 011 974 1061, email enquiries@itc-sa.org, or visit www.itc-sa.org.