What is cladding?
Cladding is any material which forms part of the external surface of a building. It is designed to decorate a building and protect it from the external elements. In recent years, it has been common practice in the construction industry for lightweight Aluminium Composite Panels to be used as cladding on the exterior walls of buildings, particularly high-rise buildings.
As with all building products, cladding must comply with the requirements set out in the National Construction Code and relevant Australian Standards.
What is an Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP)?
An ACP is a composite panel, generally comprised of an outer layer of thin aluminium, a polyurethane or mineral core, and an inner layer of thin aluminium, which have been laminated together.
Each layer of a panel has different fire performance properties. There are various categories of ACP which also have varying fire performance properties.
Even if a panel is a compliant building product, it can be used or installed in ways which result in it being deemed to be non-compliant.
Due to the considerable differences in the fire performance of cladding, depending upon the type, composition and manner of use, building owners should identify the specific products which have been used in their building and ensure that they are compliant.
How do I know if my building has ACP?
To identify if your building has ACP installed, the building will need to be inspected by a qualified building professional. Use the ‘Who do I contact?’ list to find out how to engage the right person.
The building professional engaged should know the ACP identification and reporting protocol prepared by the Insurance Council of Australia. They should:
- identify if your building has ACP
- if so, quantify the materials used
- evaluate the exposure of the building to fire risk
- propose potential remedial actions to be considered
What do I do if my building has ACP?
If your building does have ACP, you will need to:
- carefully consider the report of the building professional, particularly the evaluation of the exposure of the building to fire risk and potential remedial action
- obtain any further advice which may be necessary (building/engineering, legal, financial)
- review your strata insurance policy and notify your insurer where necessary
- obtain costs estimates for any proposed remedial action
- identify the relevant level of authorisation needed to approve the undertaking of any works as well as the associated expenditure
- assess the available options for funding the remedial action
What are your funding options?
Where do I get further information?
Relevant authorities responsible for building audits in each state can be found below:
In Queensland, a task force is operated under the joint supervision of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission and the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service. Check the following links.
Non-conforming Building Products
Queensland Government - Audit Taskforce
New South Wales
In New South Wales, the inter-agency Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding Taskforce has been established, comprising of representatives from the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, the Data Analytic Centre, the Department of Planning and Environment, Fire and Rescue NSW, the Office of Local Government, Treasury and the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
NSW Government - Fair Trading - Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding
In South Australia, building audits are being led by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
In Western Australia, audits are being undertaken by an Audit Regulator Group, comprising of representatives from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services local government representatives as well as an Audit Stakeholder Group, comprising of building industry representatives.
The Tasmanian Government has completed its audit and published a report into Aluminium Composite Panels.
In the ACT, ACT Health has conducted an audit of public buildings.
The ACT Government is working with ACT Fire & Rescue, however, it is unclear at this stage whether an audit of private buildings will be undertaken.
The Northern Territory Government does not appear to be undertaking an audit at this stage.
Insurance Council of Australia
A link to the Insurance Council of Australia’s report guidelines can be found below.
Insurance Council of Australia Guidelines
Australian Building Codes Board - National Construction Code (NCC)
The Australian Building Codes Board has currently prepared a consultation draft with respect to changes to the National Construction Code.
Who do I contact?
For further information and direction on selecting a suitably qualified building professional please refer to the following authorities:
Fire Protection Association Australia – phone 1300 731 922 – www.fpaa.com.au/provider
National Fire Industry Association – phone (07) 3882 6924- www.nfia.com.au
Engineers Australia – phone 1300 653 113 www.engineersaustralia.org.au
Board of Professional Engineers (Qld) – phone (07) 3210 3100
The Institution of Fire Engineers – phone (08) 8278 9844