Combustible Cladding above 8% reported unsafe

With combustible cladding such a hot topic in NSW right now, the Cladding Product Safety Panel (CPSP) has recently been created, made up of an expert group of building and construction specialists who support the removal of unsafe cladding in NSW.

Panel members have expertise in

  • Fire safety engineering
  • Product testing
  • Building surveying and certification
  • Construction
  • Building insurance

They aim to provide expert advice to the NSW Cladding Taskforce and the Cladding Support Unit on the suitability of cladding replacement products and external wall assembly methods. Their advice will help inform the cladding rectification work as part of Project Remediate, the NSW Government’s program which provides interest-free loans over 10 years and assurance service for the remediation of combustible cladding on high-risk residential buildings.

The CPSP will also help ensure that rectified buildings can be fully and affordably insured. This will be achieved by allowing the insurance industry to better quantify cladding risks and risk control measures.

Cladding Product Safety Panel Report 1

On 30 March 2021, the CPSP provided its first report (Cladding Product Safety Panel Report 1: initial endorsed products and systems for Project Remediate) on cladding products to the Government. The report comprises advice and recommendations on how potentially flammable cladding should be assessed and replaced for buildings part of Project Remediate.

The report also provides an initial list of recommended replacement products for buildings that are part of this program.

Of particular note, the report provides recommendations on wall system design and installation requirements necessary to support safe cladding alongside key advice from the CPSP.

Key advice from the CPSP

  • FR panels with 8% or more combustible material will need replacing. (Currently, the NSW Product Ban is only applicable to panels with combustible material of 30% or greater).
  • A2 panels with less than 8% combustible materials will need replacing unless tested to AS 5113 (full wall as an assembled test), installed with cavity barriers and protected with a sprinkler system.
  • Only solid aluminium, solid metal, fibre cement and non-combustible cement render are considered acceptable replacement options subject to bespoke design requirements.
  • Requirement of mechanical fixing of cladding panels to prevent large pieces of debris from falling off a building in a fire (no glue or tape, which soften below 120 degrees Celsius and could cause panels to fall from the building).
  • The installation of cavity barriers in appropriate locations to prevent the spread of smoke or flame, such as
    • around windows, doors and other openings
    • at horizontal slab edges between storeys
    • vertically where internal boundary walls (fire rated) between sole occupancy units and/or between sole occupancy units and common areas meet the facade
  • Cladding replacement systems that are fully designed for each building by appropriate professionals, taking into account structural and wind loading considerations, weatherproofing, condensation and other matters.

Read the full report: Cladding Product Safety Panel Report 1: initial endorsed products and systems for Project Remediate

What can be done

The CPSP Report 1 only provides expert advice and cannot be used to ban the use of flammable cladding. However, this advice will be used to help councils, consent authorities and building owners make consistent, sustainable and cost-effective decisions concerning cladding rectification work.

They will also be able to assess the safety and compliance of buildings, issue and enforce rectification orders and determine the suitability of remedial development applications (DAs).

What about owners corporations with 8-30% PE Cladding?

NSW Strata buildings with 8-30% PE cladding are deemed to be medium to high risk. It is expected that buildings within this range will fall into the second round of cladding replacement, so owners corporations are likely to need to cover the cost of this replacement, even if they are covered under Project Remediate.

Strata buildings that have 8-30% PE Cladding are likely to face many issues including:

  • Increased insurance premiums
    Alongside increased insurance premiums, owners corporations could also find it harder to receive insurance coverage as a result of the Insurance Council of Australia deeming such cladding medium to high risk.  
  • Harder to obtain bank mortgages
    Banks may become stricter on mortgages and could turn down potential buyers of apartments with 8-30% PE Cladding. This will also affect existing lot owners who are unable to sell their property.
  • Requirement to replace cladding again
    Any owners corporation that might have previously replaced extremely flammable PE Cladding with 8-30% PE Cladding (due to this particular cladding not listed as a banned product under the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017, may be required to replace the cladding again. They may also need to look at potential claims against building professionals that advised on the previous replacement cladding.  
  • 8% PE Cladding likely to become the new minimum
    Building professionals should be aware that 8% PE Cladding is likely to become the new minimum PE % for future cladding and should note this to clients when advising or undertaking cladding replacement.

Get in touch

Want to find out more about combustible cladding and how your strata building might be affected? Contact the team at The Strata Collective today to learn more. 

The Strata Collective

Level 3, 3 Spring St
Sydney, NSW 2000

Ph: 02 9137 2320

Strata Community Australia Member

Winner of the
SCA NSW Strata Community Awards 2018
«Small Business Award»

Congratulations to The Strata Collective and Principal, Rod Smith for winning such a prestigious award.

See the full story and photos here.

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