The push to produce more interesting architecture and reduce costs led to the proliferation of composite aluminium cladding in mid – high rise buildings but it has come at a far higher cost in the long run.
Peter Blair, Project Manager at construction engineering consultancy SPMA, told the Lannock Strata Fire Safety Forum that in eight out of ten instances the cladding used on buildings was likely to be non-complying or non-conforming to the soon to be implemented Building Code Revisions.
“For certifiers or other specialists engaged to inspect strata buildings it is not safe to take anything at face value,” said Mr Blair. “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.
“The original product certification can be misleading or the material may have been substituted with a cheaper product. The paper trail is not reliable so physical testing of the cladding is essential where the chain of custody is unverifiable.”
With heightened awareness of the risks posed by non-complying building materials, construction and fire safety engineers have been inundated with inquiries from Owners Corporations and Strata Managers.
Owners need to make sure they are getting good advice from specialists qualified to give it.
Certification that is not comprehensive puts lives and the billions of dollars invested in property at risk and is not going to resolve the problem.
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.
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.
Contact Lannock for more information on financing options for strata fire safety compliance.