So Called Cladding: A Regulatory Minefield

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John Rakic

John Rakic is the proud Owner and Managing Director of Trafalgar Group with over 20 years of experience in the passive fire industry.

Building Regulations historically have changed following public disdain for multiple fatality tragedies and typically in the wake of these tragedies, it is only then that we have seen Governments respond quickly and make changes to appease public unrest, and dare I say keep the voters on side. Sadly, any other necessary changes to keep pace with the changing methods and materials used in construction, take way too long and the process here in Australia is very convoluted and frustratingly slow and too bureaucratic. The Regulatory change process and I would argue is failing Australians; this is just a fact and I wonder what it would take to change the status quo to avoid knee jerk regulatory reforms and possibly avoid more multiple fatality tragedies.

This article will discuss the Building Control Legislative change process, review some changes following tragic Australian fires, and discuss what is now being referred to as the Cladding Pandemic we face in Australia.

Having spent almost an entire career in the Building industry and tracking Regulatory change and associated technical standardisation to support the Regulations, I feel well versed to critically comment and recommend a mechanism to talk less and just fix the damn problems!

This is just a snippet of the full article. To read the entire article, download the pdf today.

Table of Contents

The Building Control Regulatory System

Building Control is not included in our Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, so in simple terms, Regulatory Control falls with the individual States & Territory Governments of Australia.

This is a mouthful, and what does it mean to construction or building in Australia?

It means, we see inconsistencies in both the Building Control Legislation and Technical provisions or rules for how we build in different parts of the country.

Are some people, less important than others, or are fires more severe in some part of the country? The answers to these questions are obviously a big “no”. The overall State & Territory Legislative based process around Building Control results in this anomaly sadly.

I started in the so-called Building Industry in the early 1990’s, which was not long after the work of AUBRCC lead to our first model Building Code of Australia, BCA1990.

This AUBRCC work started in 1965, then it took 25 long years for a National Technical Document for construction of buildings in Australia, and then the 8 States & Territory Governments all subsequently called up the BCA 1990 as it was in their local Building Control Legislation.

1994, saw the formation of the ABCB, who are charged on behalf of the States & Territories to further develop and administer what was the BCA, and now it is aptly called the National Construction Code, or NCC for short.

Any changes to the NCC, are very painful and have to undergo a rigorous cost-benefit analysis and speaking candidly, I don’t envy the job of ABCB. Sadly however, the NCC has many old legacy issues or old antiquated provisions which just seem to stay in NCC and ultimately cause industry confusion, create convenient “loop holes” and potentially expose the community to undue risk in the advent of fires. Ironically, it takes a death or several deaths to invoke prompt change to clauses which if the system could somehow be more flexible and less bureaucratic, many of these clauses would have been amended long before now.

The development of Australian Standards is also slow and beauracratic and sadly often suffers from key stakeholders with vested interests in the drafting of the Standards dominating proceedings.

This is just a snippet of the full article. To read the entire article, download the pdf today.