In brief - Victorian government's latest step against use of non-compliant cladding

On 13 March 2018 the Victorian Minister for Planning issued a new guideline in relation to the issue of building permits for building work involving products that contain "combustible materials" in external wall cladding systems in certain multi-storey buildings in Victoria. Municipal and private building surveyors are expected to comply with the guideline, which takes effect from 22 March 2018, but building practitioners and designers involved in Type A and Type B Construction would be wise to take heed of it as well.

This step is a further indication of the Victorian government's crackdown on so-called combustible cladding products, and it will operate in parallel to the Victorian Cladding Taskforce and state-wide audit of certain types of multi-storey buildings for combustible cladding. 

The guideline provides, in effect, that building surveyors should only grant a building permit for a proposed building of Type A or Type B Construction which include panels comprising a polyethylene core or an expanded polystyrene product used in an external insulation and finish rendered system (defined to be "Prescribed Combustible Products") if the use has been determined compliant by the Building Appeals Board. A prescribed combustible product is defined to include a product of one or more metal sheets where the core is more than 30% polyethylene by mass.

Demonstrating compliance to the Building Appeals Board of non-deemed-to-satisfy products requires applicants to provide quantitative evidence of a product's satisfaction of the Building Code of Australia's performance requirements and, in the case of combustible materials, may require the presentation of expert fire engineering opinion. Applications will by and large be determined by the Building Appeals Board on a case-by-case basis.

The guideline will take effect from 22 March 2018.

Building surveyors and municipal building surveyors must have regard to the guideline when performing their functions under the Building Act 1993

It would also be prudent for other parties involved in projects involving Type A and Type B Construction to be aware of and have regard to the guideline when preparing the design for and constructing such buildings. Failure to do so may expose building practitioners and designers to civil, disciplinary (and possibly more serious) actions.

This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2024.