High Risk Cladding

What is High Risk Cladding?

High Risk Cladding includes any potentially combustible cladding installed on a property. Consideration is made for cladding positioning and the quantity installed on a property, and the property size and class to determine if it’s external cladding is to be considered high risk.

The term MCP will be used frequently in this topic and stands for Metal Composite Panels, also widely known in Australia as ACP (Aluminium Composite Panel) and ACM (Aluminium Composite Material). Some of these panels along with Zinc and Copper alternatives are the root cause of the High Risk Cladding issue and are in the process of being banned by the NSW Building Commissioner. The proposed ban is for products that contain more than 30% polyethelene by mass.

Graphic depicting non-conforming combustible cladding failure during a fire event.

Further to the MCP there is another group known as ICS (Insulated Cladding Systems) which comprise of expanding foams, foam panels or similar that are fixed to a structural frame and then sealed, rendered or painted. While the finish can be similar to rendered concrete or masonry, you can differentiate between ICS by tapping on the surface and listening for a hollow thud sound.

Local Example – Neo 200 Apartments, Melbourne – 2019

Legal Considerations

If you are an owner, part of body corporate or a strata representative managing a property with a potential cladding problem, you are responsible by law in line with the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017 to confirm whether the property in question is clear of MCP cladding. If you do not act, you can be subject to large financial penalties exceeding $200k and jail time of up to 2 years.

Next steps if cladding is present

If you are the responsible party for a property (Landlord / Owner / Strata Manager / Building Manager) you must take the necessary steps to confirm whether there is External Combustible Cladding present on the property in question and whether it is deemed high risk.

To do this you must engage with necessary stakeholders (Building / Strata / Maintenance Manager) to review design and construction documentation and determine if any MCP or ICS cladding is present on your property.

During this process also confirm that your building’s fire safety statement is up to date and current. Note that legislation changed in this environment also to require Accredited Fire Practitioners to undertake any sign off on the measures installed in your properties. Ensure that you have reviewed your contractors and confirmed their currency and capacity to undertake such works.

After review of the above, if you believe Cladding is present refer to a fire safety professional to inspect the cladding on the property and sample and test the cladding as necessary to determine it’s makeup.

Should test results or inspections deem that you have cladding and insufficient fire measures to protect the property in the event of a fire you must take immediate action to remediate your building in line with the reports.

How can Valen help your team?

Strata & Building Managers don’t typically have the experience or expertise to review technical fire engineering documentation to confirm if it sufficiently addresses either the initial risk assessment or any proposed remedial actions to be taken.

An example of the process we have completed recently:

  1. Our Customer (Strata & Building Management Company) were seeking an initial assessment of the building to confirm if any ACP suspected cladding was present
  2. Customer engaged Valen to undertake this assessment (in this case we found no MCP and reported accordingly)
  3. Where Valen’s report does find material we make recommendations for testing by a recommended Fire Engineer with appropriate accreditations
  4. Where the testing identifies at risk material the Fire Engineer will complete their risk assessment and make recommendations on corrective/remedial actions
  5. Valen will then coordinate the ongoing Design Stage with additional consultants if required, and following this, compile tender documentation and move to Tender Stage
  6. Valen manage the Tender process and make recommendation for principal contractor engagement
  7. Valen act as the Superintendent to the Head Contract, managing the project on behalf of the client through to completion and certification.

Valen is undertaking works with the Strata Managers and Owners Corporation for a Cladding Project Under Project Remediate in Waitara NSW Click Here to Read More

The value of having Valen undertake the initial assessment is we are typically more cost effective for reporting, which more importantly, form a first step in a longer process. We are a Turnkey partner from the initial report through to remediation of any issues at a property. Our team specialise in cost benefit analysis, cost planning and holistic project management beyond the initial Fire Engineering Assessment so customers can be assured of consistent, concise reporting and confidence that through Valen as the single point of engagement, all considerations are made out in the remediation process.

Resources and Helpful Links

There is a myriad of information out there regarding cladding and the corrective requirements, our suggestion is to use the resources available to you in NSW Government as a reference when navigating the process.

Guide for the Assessment of Buildings with Combustible Cladding (NSW Government)

Combustible Cladding – Building Assessment Process (NSW Government)