A bit like the corona virus, some damaging and unwanted issues seem to hang around far too long. Aluminium composite panels (ACP), otherwise known as combustible cladding is one such example.
This week the Victorian Minister for Planning, Mr Richard Wynne announced this form of building cladding would be banned for all new muliti-storey (over 2 stories) developments. It is a tough stance and one that will help remove any uncertainty about the acceptability of the various cladding products and their fire rating on new buildings.
This issue however remains active and very real for the small number of existing buildings (and the owners of apartments in them) that have been built using ACP. One frustration for many owners of these apartments is trying to get a straight answer to all their questions like how to fix it, how long will it take, and what is the cost.
In most instances there is not a simple answer. To get any answers at all requires extensive consultants reports, time and cost. I have spent many hours with experts in various disciplines discussing this issue and it is incredibly complex.
Owners, buyers, tenants, banks, agents, owners corporations, etc all want to know these answers. If a building has used ACP that doesn’t actually mean you have a problem. You first need to understand many other issues before you can evaluate this situation such as;
- What part of the building has ACP?
- What is the fire rating of that particular ACP?
- Does the building have different types of ACP, each with a different fire rating?
- Is the ACP in locations on the building that are high or low risk (eg over exit doors)?
- What configuration is the ACP on the building (horizontal vs vertical)?
- What other fire retention systems are in the building?
- What fire management and evacuation process are in place?
- What is the cost, process and time to rectify it?
Owners corporations (body corporates) and their managers have been working through these questions for the last couple of years so most have started to get some answers but addressing the process and cost of rectifying it is a bit more problematic.
In July 2019 the Victorian Government announced a $600 million Cladding Rectification Program and Cladding Safety Victoria was established to oversee the process. Most experts agree the cost of rectifying every impacted building (including non-residential) will easily exceed this amount but everything helps.
So like Corona virus we need to understand ACP and the real risk (if any) it presents to each building while the owners corporations works through a process to mitigate the risk for everyone impacted. Similarly it is the uncertainty of cost, process and time that is annoying so every effort should be made to speed up the process to provide some the answers to the issue.