16 January 2020
In a major development for the Strata industry, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) has recently held that Biowood cladding installed externally on a Sydney building is combustible and must be removed as it is a major defect.
This is the first case in NSW that has established that Biowood panels installed in a building are combustible breaching statutory warranties
Faiyaaz Shafiq, the Senior Lawyer at JS Mueller and Co who worked on this case said “the win is significant because it has highlighted the danger of the Biowood panels. The panels are made up of 70% reconstituted timber and 30% PVC if ignited poses an undue risk of fire spreading and it could cause another catastrophe like what happened in Lacrosse Tower in Melbourne and London’s Grenfell Tower.”
“It is now up to owners corporations and strata managers to ensure these panels are removed and lives not put in danger,” said Shafiq.
The owners corporation claimed that due to the combustible nature of the Biowood panels installed by the builder, the Biowood cladding posed an undue risk of fire spreading and was not in compliance with the Building Code of Australia and the Australian Standards.
NCAT accepted the owners corporation’s evidence that there was an undue risk of fire spreading once the Biowood panels were ignited extending up the façade of the building which would allow fire to spread into the building.
A number of multi-storey buildings in NSW have Biowood panels installed on their façade which make them look aesthetically pleasing. But this recent decision by NCAT confirms that Biowood panels are combustible and pose a risk of fire spreading from one part of these buildings to another.
The owners corporations of buildings which have Biowood cladding require urgent assessment of the risks involved and their rights in light of this new decision.
REINSW thanks JS Mueller & Co for this article.
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