Ensuring Your Building Facade Is Safe

As Australian state governments get more serious about cladding compliance orders, businesses and property managers will have to double down their efforts to ensure their buildings are up to code.

The Victorian government has approved the formation of Cladding Safety Victoria (CSV), a stand-alone body tasked by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) to coordinate a cladding rectification program. With the installation of this program comes further regulations for building material compliance.

There are various routes to achieving cladding compliance on building projects. Maz Group has outlined the three major pathways to achieving cladding compliance for external facades:

1. Verification Method CV3
With this method, the entire building undergoes a full-scale facade test to assess the level at which fire would spread along the building. If a wall system can pass the test requirements outlined by this method, they will receive an EW classification.

The building must meet the Australian standard AS5113. AS5113:2016 Classification of external walls of structures based on reaction-to-fire performance is a standard that outlines the criteria for classifying exterior walls of buildings.

The additional requirements, as laid out by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) are as follows:

  • In all cases, where they are applicable, BCA Verification Methods CV1 Fire spread between buildings on adjoining allotments and/or CV2 Fire spread between buildings on the same allotment must be used to verify avoidance of spread-of-fire between buildings.
  • For buildings of Type A construction, a Specification E1.5 compliant sprinkler system (other than a FPAA101D or FPAA101H system) must be installed, with all balconies, patios and terraces provided with protection. In addition, buildings with an effective height greater than 25 m require sprinkler system enhancements to increase capacity and reliability.
  • For Class 2, 3 or 9 buildings of Type B construction, floor-to-floor fire spread must be inhibited by either a Specification E1.5 compliant sprinkler system (other than a FPAA101D or FPAA 101H system) or horizontal fire-rated construction as outlined in BCA C2.6(a)(iv).

2. Deemed to Satisfy
Under these conditions, a building can be deemed Non-Combustible through a series of demanding small-scale, laboratory-based performance tests. These tests determine the safety of a building and rate of flame spread if a fire occurred.

The ABCB states that provisions include prescriptive examples of materials, products, design factors, construction and installation methods, which if followed in full, are deemed to comply with the Performance Requirements of the National Construction Code.

3. Performance Assessment
This method entails a facade-specific evaluation by a fire engineer. They will decide if a building meets compliance regulations based on the exterior’s full-scale tests. A building can pass the assessment if the facility meets the performance requirements set out by the fire engineer.

According to the ABCB, Performance Requirements specify the minimum level of performance for all buildings, and plumbing and drainage installations. This includes relevant materials, components, design factors, and construction methods. The Performance Requirements are the mandatory requirements of the code.

There are many options for exterior materials that can offer builders long-lasting qualities as well as maintaining a safe environment for residents. To ensure that your building is using compliant materials, you must follow one of these three pathways to success. For further assistance with cladding removal and recladding, please contact us today.