SCA (Qld) has successfully achieved amendments to the Guideline that assist Building Industry Professionals (BIPs) in assessing schemes at Stage 2 of the Safer Buildings Initiative.
The Guidelines include an additional four pages with quite detailed references to the Building Code of Australia (rather than the Regulation), instructing which parts of the building that BIPs should consider and in what context.
- The technical standard to be used is the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
- The Building Industry Professional (BIP) is to consider Stage 1 answers ‘broadly’ but assess the building with a more detailed application of the BCA.
- Soffits and attachments are mostly to be assessed in light of the ancillary clause of the BCA. The BIP is asked to check whether it’s attached (other than a metal hook) to the external wall and whether it will contribute to fire spread.
- Generally, if there is no cladding on the external wall, the BIP needn’t look at the frame.
- Tiles are not considered combustible cladding.
- If fire protected timber meets BCA specs, it should not be deemed combustible.
- Glass, natural stone, concrete, masonry and steel are non-combustible.
- Generally, a shade sail using a building for anchoring would not be considered an attachment (but BIP is to assess this in view of the BCA).
- Roofs are not part of the required inspections, unless used on lower levels.
- Only visual inspection is required, testing is reserved for Stage 3.
It’s finally time to move to the Stage 2 paperwork to meet the deadline of 31 July 2019.
The Guidelines provide clearer instructions to the Building Industry Professional (BIP) that the definition of combustible material is more holistic under the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
SCA (Qld) strongly recommends owners ensure their BIP is aware of the updated guidelines and that they are instructed to view the building materials in context when they answer Question 6 on Form 34.
SCA (Qld) was also advised that there is likely a future view to add to the Guidelines what the fire engineers need to assess and how. It is also likely that there is a further amendment detailing Stage 3 testing the need to modify/rectify.
SCA (Qld) recommends members advise committees that it may be more cost effective to remove any combustible materials, thereby avoiding Stage 3.
SCA (Qld) actively pursued the Deputy Premier, Minister for Housing, and the QBCC Commissioner to request an extension of time and a change to the definition of “combustible” as noted in the Regulation.
As a result of SCA (Qld) pressure, the government announced the following in mid-May:
- A blanket extension of two months will be applied to the Stage 2 and Stage 3 process. The decision came after the government recognised the tight timelines and the difficulty in obtaining bodies corporate approvals. Please be aware that this is almost certainly the only extension owners will receive and you must act now to meet the deadline of 31 July 2019 to avoid a potentially hefty fine;
- The Stage 3 deadline, where a fire engineer must be engaged and advised to the QBCC, is extended to 31 October 2019;
- The Guidelines are to be reviewed to ensure Building Industry Professionals (BIP) take a holistic approach when examining the building in Part 2 to determine, if the materials comply with the Australian Building Code.
SCA (Qld) will continue to pursue the Government on issue that there is no provision for those buildings who know they have ACP or a similar “true” combustible product and have either already declared at Stage 1 that they will engage the Stage 3 Fire Engineer, or that are now at Stage 2 and would make that declaration to modify and rectify without having to engage the fire engineer.