Combustible cladding: The heat is on

Building safety is a major concern for regulators, committees and property owners. Here is a recount of the latest regulations around cladding across our different states.

When it comes to cladding regulations, the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland are of one view – combustible cladding material such as Aluminium Composite Panels (ACP) are banned from use. The heat is on for building owners to comply with the new regulations.

Following the tragic fires in London’s Grenfell Tower last year and Melbourne’s Lacrosse Building in 2014, there’s been a flurry of amendments to existing regulations to make buildings and properties safer across Australia.

 

Here’s are the latest updates for each state:

 

New South Wales (NSW)

NSW has amended the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017 specifically prohibiting the use of flammable metal cladding material such as ACP if the panel core has more than 30% polyethylene. Other metal composite cladding material such as zinc, copper, etc. are also considered equally at risk.

Owners under a strata property need to compulsorily register details of their ownership and cladding material used in their building via the NSW Cladding Registration portal. All old or new buildings that are residential, commercial, industrial or under office and public use having more than two storeys are covered under this Act.

Buildings occupied after 22 October 2018 need to be registered with four months of occupation. And those occupied before this date need to be registered by 22 February next year. Any non-compliance or failure to submit reports can mean heavy fines and even imprisonment.

 

Queensland (QLD)

The Building and Other Legislation (Cladding) Amendment Regulation 2018 (Qld) mandates the committee (on behalf of property owners) to register online and give a copy of a completed cladding checklist (part 1) for the building to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) by 29 March 2019.

Owners can choose to extend the period of complying by applying 28 days before the deadline lapses, but no one is completely exempted from doing so.

Buildings that have cladding must be professionally assessed for the level of risk by 29 May 2019. Additionally, a fire safety risk assessment must be completed by a qualified fire engineer by 3 May 2021.

For more detailed information, click here.

Victoria (VIC)

In its recent amendment of the Building Amendment (Registration of Building Trades and Other Matters) Bill 2018, the Victorian government also issued a ban on using ACP with polyethylene and expanded polystyrene (EPS) cores.

A recent audit by the Victorian Cladding Taskforce shows that out of a total 4700 buildings inspected, about 384 are using potentially combustible cladding and 21 need immediate cladding replacement. Owners must test for flammable cladding and replace them to ensure safety of their buildings.

While compliance is mandatory, the upside is that the government is offering a tripartite loan to ease the process for owner to replace their flammable cladding with safer options.

 

What action does the committee need to take?

As a committee or body corporate you should:

  • Register your buildings online within the deadline specified by your state
  • Comply with the testing of the cladding materials used in your buildings
  • Replace all inflammable cladding to ensure the safety of your buildings
  • Provide a report if it’s mandated by your state

 

What happens if your building does not have any cladding?

If it happens that your building does not have any cladding, the responsibility rests for you to report the status of your building.

While this initial regulation and audit process is focused on “high risk” buildings, this is considered to be a similar issue to asbestos management and fire safety standards – that these requirements will be widespread and standard in future.

 

How is this likely to impact your insurance?

If you’ve identified any flammable cladding material being used in your building, make sure to notify your insurer and insurance broker so that the risks are evaluated, and safety recommendations are made. As a separate initiative, many insurers require an assessment as part of their renewal process.

PICA Group note: If this is requested from you, your manager can provide assessment options to avoid higher premiums or reduced coverage.

 

Here’s what we can do for you:

Our customers safety is always our top priority. As your strata management and body corporate partner, we will continue to monitor and communicate any developments as they happen.

Get in touch with your manager if you have any questions on the matter.