- Samantha Reece
AAA calls for tighter testing for cladding
With 4000 apartment buildings across Australia featuring flammable cladding and replacement costs in the billions, AAA has commenced advocating for higher standards in mandatory testing controls to ensure that owners are protected against future tragedies such as the Grenfell and NEO fires.
Currently cladding products are required to pass Australian Standards AS 1530.1 to demonstrate that they are not combustible. If they fail that test, then they are required to undergo additional testing under AS 5113.
AS 5113 was introduced into Australia following a spate of global façade fires as it is a more stringent test and includes a full fire wall assessment to ensure that fire is unable to spread. However, despite its intention to provide greater protection, the AS 5113 test has not been made mandatory under the National Construction Code.
“At the end of the day testing a small sample of the product to achieve AS 1530.1 is insufficient because we have seen that these products when tested under AS 5113 fail up to 7 out of the 9 criteria and so basically all that is occurring is that these owners are swapping one dangerous product for another when they re-clad their apartment building,” Ms Reece said.
“AS 5113 aims to improve safety and performance standards in buildings across Australia. For apartment owners, the AS 5113 test standard offers peace of mind, that the cladding materials used within the project have secured the most comprehensive fire safety test standard for external walls, available in Australia.
“However, eight years on and the AS 5113 is yet to be mandated under the National Construction Code for all facade products and the question we wish to ask the Australian Building Codes Board is, how much longer are they prepared to place apartment owners at risk?
“We have seen apartments have their insurance revoked and bankers not lend against apartments with dangerous cladding and this places apartment owners in a state of purgatory.
“Given the Australian Government and each State and Territory Government produces and maintains the National Construction Code, they have the power to mandate AS 5113 and until that happens we are going to continue to see dodgy companies ripping off apartment owners and from AAA’s viewpoint that is no longer acceptable.”