Pleasing first steps need further action for complete cladding safety
Five years after flames tore through the Grenfell Tower in West London, killing 72 people, the Strata Community Associat...
A recent expert has claimed that with new policies being implemented, eight out of 10 instances of cladding used in buildings would be considered non-complying or non-conforming.
With various instances of tragedies instigated by flammable cladding in apartment complexes, Peter Blair, project manager at SPMA, said that in order to comply with upcoming Building Code revisions, eight out of 10 buildings will need to change their cladding.
“For certifiers or other specialists engaged to inspect strata buildings, it is not safe to take anything at face value,” Mr Blair said.
“Given the high level of non-compliance and product substitution, the default position should be to presume that a building with composite aluminium cladding is non-compliant until proven otherwise.
“These products all look the same and the only way to know exactly what has been installed is to take a sample of the material and have it tested at a reputable facility such as the CSIRO.”
Mr Blair pointed out that the original product certification is not always reliable, as it may be misleading or have been replaced with a cheaper item.
“The paper trail is not reliable so physical testing of the cladding is essential where the chain of custody is unverifiable,” he said.
Quality certification is liable to not only put lives at risk, but also potentially billions of dollars at risk, according to Paul Morton, managing director of Lannock Strata Finance and convenor of the Fire Safety Forum.
“Without pointing the finger of blame, there have been failures in certification and product identification going back many years, which have led to the situation we are currently facing,” Mr Morton said.
“In fact, it’s a good time for owners to give their buildings a thorough inspection and deal with other fire safety related issues that might have gone undetected.
“There’s a tendency in strata to do nothing and hope the problem goes away but every owner has an obligation to themselves and their neighbours to ensure safety rates above all other concerns.”
An apartment is a personal residence within a house or building occupied by several tenants.
Cladding is a non-loadbearing layer attached to the outside of a home or building to shed water and protect it from the effects of weather.
Risk is defined as the possibility of an investment having a different outcome from its expected gains or returns.