Testing times for building cladding

Testing is being pushed for non-conforming aluminium composite panels in buildings, following London’s Grenfell Tower fire.

Initially estimated to cost approximately AU$42 million, the insurance payout from last week’s Grenfell Tower fire is now estimated to be as high as AU$1.67 billion, according to Insurance Business. The fire saw 79 people killed or missing, and has put building cladding at the forefront of the minds of many in the insurance industry here.

ICPS Australia, in conjunction with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) scientists, have now reiterated the need for building cladding testing. In particular, it points to a building cladding testing regime it developed and has been available to the insurance industry here since 2015.

CEO Brad Nicholls said “it is tragic that the loss of life in London’s Grenfell Tower has been the catalyst to put this serious issue higher on the agenda for insurers and building industry regulators”.

ICPS Australia is an independent consulting company that specialises in post-disaster rebuilds for the insurance industry.

Nicholls noted that after the Lacrosse apartment building in Melbourne’s Docklands caught fire in 2014, ICPS had suggested that cladding be tested because of the risk non-conforming cladding poses.

Non-conforming aluminium composite panels

Dr Wendy Miller, from QUT’s Science and Engineering Faculty, worked with QUT’s materials and combustion specialists and ICPS Australia to devise a test methodology for cladding on existing buildings.

“It is important that building owners and occupiers, and their insurers, have credible information about building products. Because building documentation for residential construction is frequently non-existent, incomplete or not credible, it was important to devise a way in which aluminium composite panels (ACP) already installed on buildings could be tested to identify potential risk,” said Dr Miller.

ICPS Australia is compiling a submission for the Queensland Parliament’s Public Works & Utilities Committee, which is inquiring into proposed legislation to tighten the chain of responsibility for non-conforming building products.