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The use of cheap building materials has come under scrutiny following last November’s high-rise apartment blaze in Melbourne.

Under the Building Code of Australia (“BCA”), external walls must be non-combustible; however, an investigation into the fire found the use of cheap imported cladding hastened the spread of the blaze which engulfed 13 storeys in less than 15 minutes.

In such instances, while a builder may be liable for failing to ensure that the building complied with the BCA, the Building Commission may also take disciplinary action against building surveyors, most of whom are local government employees, for breaching their responsibilities under the BCA.

This incident serves as a timely reminder to local governments and the building surveyors they employ to make sure, before signing any compliance certificates, that products specified for use in buildings comply with the BCA.

Importantly, while a product may comply with certain provisions of the BCA, it may not necessarily comply with all relevant building standards. For example, a wall cladding product may have compliance certification for weatherproofing, but it may not have been assessed for its fire resistance.

For more information, contact our team of local government, and construction and engineering lawyers on (08) 9322 1966, or email us.