CASE STUDY: ACP Full or Partial Removal.

CJK saves Developer $880,000

A 6-storey building in NSW property with both commercial tenancies and residential apartments received a council notice regarding the Aluminium Composite Panel (ACPs) installed.

In 2018, NSW introduced a ban on Aluminium Composite Panel under Section 9(1) of the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017, with a core comprised of more than 30% polyethylene core materials in any external cladding, external wall, external insulation, façade or rendered finish.

There are two exceptions to the ban:

  1. The building product is not deemed combustible by successfully passing a test in accordance with Australian Standard 1530.1-1994 ‘Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures’ (AS 1530.1); or
  2. The building product and proposed external wall assembly has successfully passed a test for both the EW (external wall fire spread) and BB (building-to-building fire spread) classifications in accordance with Australian Standard 5113 ‘Fire Propagation testing and classification of external walls of buildings’ (AS 5113), and ‘the proponent’ of the use of the building product tested to AS 5113, documents by statutory declaration, that the building product will be installed in a manner identical to the tested prototype wall assembly or façade.

The NSW Government Fair Trading website explains that:

“The ban aims to prevent these products from being used in the future on specific building types. It does not have an automatic effect on buildings that already have this product on them before the ban.”

It goes on to explain:

The ban does not automatically require rectification of affected buildings.

Your local council, fire safety professional, or relevant enforcement authority could require the building owner to eliminate or minimise the safety risk posed by the cladding, or remediate or restore the building. Their assessment of the safety risk of the cladding will be determined on a case-by-case basis, based on a review of the entire building and its systems and their interaction with the cladding, rather than focussing strictly on the type of cladding used.

As part of the case that ran for 7 years, Christina Knorr from CJK Fire & Safety was engaged to provide an Expert Witness Report regarding the assessment of the cladding which was attached to the external walls of the building.

The owners wanted cladding to be replaced and had been given reports that that claimed the only way to meet the council order was to remove all of the ACPs.

The Developer initially offered to do work for $300,000 but the Owners rejected this offer and decided to sue.

The Developer then doubled their offer, but the Owners again rejected the offer. The Owner’s, in their haste to fix the problem, already taken out a loan of $1.2M and replaced the cladding and were claiming the full amount.

After attending a site inspection, Christina submitted her Expert Witness Report in 2022.

In the CJK Expert Report, it was confirmed that the ACPs were attached to the external wall and did NOT form part of a “fire safety system”. This was because the ACPs were not installed for the purposes of firefighting operations or to resist fire and/or smoke spread.

Although the ACPs had been banned in NSW, it did not necessarily mean that the ACPs needed to be entirely removed. Rather, a building-specific risk assessment identifying any areas of high risk and identifying means of risk reduction should be completed.

This assessment resulted in a recommendation that only certain sections of the ACPs needed to be removed to stop potential fire spread and reduce the risk of fire exists becoming unusable.

From the CJK Fire & Safety report, the Developer could prove they were not at fault and the $1.2M claim was reduced back down to $320,000, saving the Developer $880,000.

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