Non-compliant sheet metal cladding could cost you millions.

2016 Dec

The Lacrosse Apartment fire in the Melbourne Docklands that saw millions of dollars in damage was the result of non-compliant architectural sheet metal composite cladding.

“The Metropolitan Fire Brigade's (MFB) investigation of a fire at a Docklands apartment block in November 2014 found that the external aluminium cladding on the building contributed to the fire spread and did not meet compliance with the National Construction Code (NCC).” - Victorian Building Authority

This incident follows the trend of inferior imported products to cut costs in Australian building projects.

“These incidents serve as sobering reminders of what can occur when fire protection, design, installation, testing and maintenance are not carried out by competent, qualified and accredited individuals.” - Scott Williams FPA Australia (CEO)

The Victorian Building Authority published an Audit on external architectural wall cladding on high-rise buildings. Evidence collected by the Victorian Building Authority confirmed that “the external wall cladding material was an [aluminium composite panel] product, Alucobest, and that it had been used in a non-compliment manner.”

What went wrong?

The imported architectural sheet metal cladding used by the developer on the building facade was an aluminium composite product that did not meet Australian compliance standards.

Aluminium composite panels are a sandwich-type panel consisting of two aluminium faces and a polyethylene or mineral-based core. It is the core material that affects the fire performance of the panel, and determines its combustibility.

The report published by the Victorian Building Authority in collaboration with The Metropolitan Fire Brigade, found that the use of non-compliant polyethylene core material in the external wall cladding was the predominant contributor to blaze.

Michael O’Connor from the Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union said these non-compliant, polyethylene filled products are “rife” in Australian buildings. (Madeleine Morris, ABC)

“Poor building product compliance is a major issue in Australia, with evidence showing that the market penetration of non-conforming products in key construction product sectors may be up to 50 per cent.” - Geraldine Chua, Architecture & Design

The Audit confirmed that various decisions made by different practitioners at different stages during the design and building process appear to have contributed to the non-compliant external sheet metal cladding, and no particular party could be held responsible.

Following the 2014 incident in Port Melbourne, local building regulators in Victoria and around Australia are calling for action against non-compliant imported sheet metal cladding. Key industry representatives called for strict regulation around registered building practitioners, “following concerns cheap materials were being substituted by builders during construction.” (Alisha Dow, The Age).

Compliance Obligations

Building work must be carried out in accordance with the Building Code of Australia.

However, there is no regulatory framework in Australia that commercially incentivises individuals and businesses to seek a professional approach to demonstrate that their products and solutions comply. The VBA has taken action to improve the regulations around this issue in response to the incident.

“Building Practitioners make decisions during the design and construction of a building to ensure compliance with the BCA before it is then certified by the Relevant Building Surveyor” - Victorian Building Authority, External Wall Cladding Report Audit Report

Architectural Sheet metal Cladding Solutions

FORM2000 is a sheet metal fabricator located in Melbourne, supplying clients with custom sheet metal products Australia wide.

Architectural sheet metal cladding is used by architects and builders around the world as a feature to compliment the built form and surrounding environments. FORM2000 is capable of manufacturing custom architectural sheet metal cladding in a variety of high-impact metal materials and finishes, to be used in retail fit-outs, residential and commercial design projects.

At FORM2000, we understand the critical importance of aesthetics and finish quality, and understand your obligations to comply with Australian standards. Our wide range of ancillary sheet metal services can provide OEM manufacturing solutions for your next building project.

Practitioners including certifying authorities, need to be satisfied that suitable evidence is provided to demonstrate that the products proposed for use in the construction of external facades comply with the relevant requirements of the BCA. FORM2000 can assist your business in developing architectural sheet metal cladding on both internal and external surfaces. Our design engineers can assist develop not just the visual scheme through custom profiling and surface treatment, but also with providing fixing points and systems into the panels to meet fit-out requirements.

It is important that certifying authorities, designers, builders and installers are aware of any limitations or special requirements specified on product documentation regarding use or installation.

Our automated manufacturing facilities ensure cost effective production without compromising design and the ability to supply a wide range of quantities to meet the fit-out schedule.

Speak to us about your special needs, we can work together to develop innovative, custom solutions.

Posted on Tuesday December 20, 2016 Permalink Chapter: Blog Posts

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