Building Developers and Owners are Being Sandwiched

3 joined up claddingCosts, Risks and Returns are being impacted by uncertainty around the future acceptability of Aluminium Composite Cladding Panels (ACP).

Since the Lacrosse Apartment building fire in 2014 and the tragic Grenfell Tower fire of 2017, there are still more questions relating to the use of flammable ACP than answers.

Industry, governing bodies, financiers, building owners and occupiers, are yet to really understand their options.

  • Will the import and use of flammable ACP in Australia be banned? – one of the suggestions made by the Senate’s interim enquiry report.
  • Will the National Construction Code and Building Regulations be revised to require increased fire safety around the use of ACP? – as suggested by the current draft amendment out for public comment.
  • Will the ‘grey area’ of whether the ACP is an attachment or part of an external wall be confirmed?
  • Will Government required audits lead to large scale removal of flammable ACP and replacement with compliant materials?
  • Will insurers carve out flammable ACP from insurance policies?  Will premiums increase?
  • Is the reputation of ACP tarnished so much so that developers and architects turn their back on the material – as recently reported by Uniting Communities with their U City development in Adelaide?

These Grey Areas are Red Hot in the Property Sector

Aluminium cladding has been used for many years in Australia.  Panels can be solid or composite with a core material. Composite panels came into use in the 1990’s.

Those with a flammable 100% polyethylene core have become the subject of much discussion and scrutiny.

Composite panels with fire retardant cores were introduced in 1999 (such as Alpolic FR) and around 2012 (such as Alucabond Plus and A2).

Externally, the panels look much the same. Determining the product and type can be challenging and generally require a desk-top and an on-site audit.

Risk Management First Step… Audit what’s there

The aim the building audit is to ascertain the presence and extent of any flammable ACP, the risk it poses in terms of ignition and fire spread and the cost of available mitigation strategies. Reportedly, cladding replacement at Lacrosse is in the order of $1,000 / sqm of façade area.

The audit process typically includes a desk-top assessment of architectural drawings and specifications, cladding installation drawings, operation and maintenance manuals and warranties, together with interviews with installers and manufacturers.

The desk-top study often needs to be supported by on-site inspections and if required, physical samples can be taken and assessed for identification purposes.

Where flammable ACP is found, a quantitative risk assessment should be undertaken by a qualified Fire Engineer. The various fire spread paths can be ranked and mitigation strategies can be identified.

Cost estimates for recommended solutions can then be prepared by a quantity surveyor or a building consultant.

The building audit is the starting point of a risk management strategy and will help to navigate the changing landscape as answers are provided to the questions.


AS 5113:2016 Fire Propagation Testing and Classification of External Walls of Buildings

For further information on ACP and building audits please contact one of the team here:

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Rob Howells
o.  03 9915 6300
m. 0437 649 082
Micheal O’Gorman
p.  03 9915 6330
m. 0488 285 221
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Simon Gould
o.  02 8113 7112
m. 0409 228 552
Gavin Peach
o.  07 3221 8255
m. 0412 225 781
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Graham Rigby
o.  08 9489 4895
m. 0419 847 998

For 32 years
and counting Napier & Blakeley have been providing the following services to the property industry:

  • Property Acquisition & Disposal Technical Due Diligence
  • Property Development Due Diligence
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Capital Expenditure Forecasting
  • Make Good Reporting
  • Energy Management
  • Development Monitoring
  • Property Tax Depreciation

Please contact any of the people below for more information or assistance:

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Alastair Walker
Managing Director

o.  02 9299 1899
m. 0419 503 289
Craig Smith

o.  03 9915 6300
m. 0407 371 664
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Paul Mazoletti
National Director

o.  07 3221 8255
m. 0408 749 202
Peter Mitchell
o.  +65 6550 9642
m. +65 9670 9435


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