Combustible aluminium composite cladding will be banned in NSW on the exteriors of multi-storey buildings, including residential buildings and public buildings over two storeys, from tomorrow (Wednesday 14 August 2018).
The ban also applies to commercial office buildings, industrial buildings or retail buildings four storeys or more in height for Class A construction and three storeys or more in height for Class B construction.
While industry has largely supported a prohibition of this type, the sticking point for owners of existing properties is likely to be the retrospective nature of the ban.
NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rose Webb gave manufacturers, developers and property owners notice on Friday 10 August of the intent to impose the new ruling under the state’s Building Products (Safety) Act 2017.
The specific products it applies to are any form of aluminium composite panel with a core comprised of more than 30 per cent polyethylene by mass where the intent is to use the product for external cladding, facades, external walls, external insulation or external renders.
Only products that have passed the new product safety and wall assembly safety tests – Australian Standard 1530.1 Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures or Australian Standard 5113 Fire Propagation testing and classification of external walls of buildings (AS 5113) – are exempt.
The government had foreshadowed the ban early this year, and called for public submissions in March.
“Having considered a broad range of sources, including public submissions, expert advice, national and international reports, and NSW Cladding Taskforce data, I am satisfied that there is a safety risk posed by this building product,” Ms Webb said.
The ban would apply even if the building product was used in a building before the ban was made, she said.
This means that all of the buildings identified by the NSW Cladding Taskforce audit, and others where owners are concerned there could be a compliance issue, may need to take urgent action.
The ban has teeth too, as it will be an offence carrying a penalty of up to $1.1 million for a company or $220,00 for an individual to contravene the building product use ban or to represent that a building product is suitable for use where such use would contravene the ban.
- Read the full regulation here
The new rule brings NSW into closer alignment with similar bans imposed by the Queensland and Victorian governments.
Building ministers appraise mandatory labelling
The NSW government has also joined with all state and territory building ministers in a plan to potentially instigate mandatory permanent labelling of cladding products as a risk-reduction measure for future buildings.
The call was one of the outcomes of last Friday’s meeting of the Building Minister’s Forum in Adelaide.
The BMF agreed to approach Standards Australia to develop a national standard for the proposed labelling. This would then be made mandatory under the National Construction Code.
NSW minister for industry and better regulation Matt Kean said it was a sensible reform that would help ensure “the right products are being used in the right way”.
“This new requirement is just the latest step in a series of ongoing reforms regarding the use of cladding across NSW,” he said.
“I can assure the community that we will continue to push for effective, nationwide action to give Australians certainty and security when it comes to the buildings where they live, work and play.”
Queensland minister for housing and public works Mick de Brenni welcomed the move as a win for cladding safety across the country.
“This is a major step in ensuring that buildings with cladding are safe for emergency workers, and a great example of what a bipartisan approach to a major issue can achieve,” Mr de Brenni said.
Other initiatives the BMF agreed to at its meeting include directing the Building Regulators’ Forum (BRF) to work with fire authorities on the best method for making information available to assist them to respond to buildings with aluminium composite products.
The ministers also received an update from the BRF on work being undertaken by the state and territory jurisdictions to identity and address non-compliant cladding.
This included an update on work by the State Officers Group, which is developing a report on the current state of play in terms of who is responsible for meeting the cost of rectifying buildings where non-compliant cladding has been identified.