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The fire at Melbourne’s Neo 200 apartment complex has raised some concerning questions about the materials being imported and used in Australian properties.
Monday morning saw a fire blaze on for just over an hour. No one was injured in the fire, but there are questions being raised by this incident that have wider implications for the property industry.
In a statement made by Melbourne’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade, who dealt with the fire, said that the building was identified as having combustible cladding, which meant more resources were required to deal with the fire than initially thought.
The use of cladding, or aluminium composite panels, as building material has been overlooked in previous years by certifiers, according to Adam Mainey, director of private certification firm Concise Certification.
Previously, the Building Code of Australia required building materials to be non-combustible when viewed from the exterior of the buildings, he said to Smart Property Investment.
Additionally, suppliers had also not appropriately disclosed when some building materials contained highly combustible materials within the panel itself, but the exterior appears and feels non-combustible.
Mr Mainey said that this current cladding issue is one that has been identified previously by experts.
“There is evidence from numerous architects and certifiers of these suppliers providing concurrence that these types of systems are suitable for these buildings when in fact these non-compliances have resulted in departures as seen today in the two Melbourne cladding incidents,” he said.
“The government needs to enforce stricter regulations regarding the importation of all building products into Australia.
“If the product is non-compliant in the first place, why is there no form of scrutiny on the supplier and why does the government continue to allow the importation of non-compliant products into Australia?”
When asked how investors can determine the quality of building materials, a spokesperson for Fire and Rescue NSW said to Smart Property Investment that all new buildings and new building work must be compliant with the National Construction Code.
“If a person was wanting to determine the appropriateness of materials they wish to use, they could seek the advice of an appropriately qualified person, such as an architect or building certifier,” the spokesperson said.
“A person would also need to seek advice about any required approvals prior to the commencement of any building work.”
Master Builders Australia was contacted and did not respond before publication. The Housing Industry Association declined to comment.