The Wood Cladding and External Fixtures Alliance has announced that timber cladding is now acceptable for all classes of buildings other than Class 2 and 3 low-rise buildings under the existing ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ provisions of the National Construction Code.
The new position adopted by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) in regards to Class 2 and 3 buildings in the face of 20 years of decisions made by building surveyors and certifiers who have interpreted the Code to allow timber cladding to be used on these low-rise buildings.
According to Paul Michael, chair of the Wood Cladding and External Fixtures Alliance, there is a general view that the impact on timber cladding from a blanket ban on all combustible cladding is an unintended consequence of the recent fires that have involved the more flammable Aluminium Composite Panels and Expanded Polystyrene.
“We have not spoken to one Minister or ABCB member who believes that timber cladding poses a safety threat to the occupants of a building and no risk assessment has been done to demonstrate there is an unacceptable danger,” says Michael.
“The Alliance believes it would have been more appropriate for the ABCB to focus on the issue of fire safety and stipulate certain performance standards which would have excluded the use of highly combustible cladding but continued to allow timber and other suitable well proven products that have significant environmental and aesthetic benefits,” says Michael.
“However, the Board chose not to do this, although we understand there was significant debate about the best option.”
“As a result of the ABCB decision, it is absolutely critical all prospective owners, builders, building surveyors and certifiers understand that timber cladding can be used on all Class 1 buildings (houses) and other low-rise building Classes except three-storey Class 2 and 3 buildings. In addition, we now understand we will need to find different pathways for Class 2 and 3 buildings,” he says.