Recent Customer Concerns  – the fallout from the London Cladding Inferno.

Recent Customer Concerns

 – the fallout from the London Cladding Inferno.

Given the recent horrific high-rise tower fire in London, and subsequent death toll, it is natural that builders and owners are concerned and looking into the materials used on their buildings.  A recent conversation between a Unitex customer and our Technical Director illustrates this:
 

To Unitex,

Hi, we are building a new 2 story home using Unitex panels for the upper floors.
with the current issues regarding flammable building coatings can you please give me some information regarding Unitex panels as they are made of expanded Polystyrene which to my knowledge is very flammable and also produces toxic vapours and fumes?

Brian
 

Gday Brian,

Thank you for your email.
Non-conforming products in Multistorey Buildings is certainly a serious topic, and has been for Unitex for decades, and more recently, brought to light to the general public.

Before I go into why the Unitex Base Board System is compliant and National Construction Code approved building system for residential dwellings less than 3 storeys in height, I agree polystyrene is, in itself flammable as is timber and other materials used in typical house construction.

Unitex, who are local Australian manufacturers of a range of modified cement render and texture systems also use flame-retarded expanded polystyrene as the insulant in our now 25 year old External Insulating Cladding System (EIFS), known as Unitex Base Board system.

In international residential construction, responsible companies like Unitex have developed similar EIFS systems in the USA, Europe and Canada for over 35 years, without issue when used as specified.

Unitex Base Board System is not only approved by a document review, but most importantly by full laboratory, weatherproof and fire testing to be accepted in the Australian Residential Construction market as Compliant and conforming to the National Construction Code (BCA).

This is done by the Australian Building Codes Board process of obtaining CODEMARK Accreditation as the required independent third party accreditation.

The Unitex Base Board System, manufacturing system, site installation and processes are yearly audited to fully assure of conformance and that Unitex products, product systems and organisation, do what we say they do.

 
The standard Unitex Base Board system is tested to be compliant in Bushfire Attack BAL 29 zones, passes Australian Standard Fire Test AS 1530 Part 3.

Our high build render Base Board System also passed for use in bushfire attack BAL 40 zones.

No other company in Australia has such complete testing and accreditation.
This is done for our and your comfort, safety and peace of mind!

In walls where NON COMBUSTABILITY is required to AS 1530 Part 1, you are correct Polystyrene or wood may not be used.

But these are generally 1-2 hr fire rated boundary walls or partition walls. 
In short, if you are in a Bushfire FZ (non-combustible), zone you cannot use Unitex Base Board nor even  timber frames. 

Otherwise in residential dwellings below 3 storey and in class 1-9 building types,
i.e. almost all residential single dwellings, you can feel totally safe but always check with your Building Surveyor who is the ultimate site arbitor.

I have no hesitation in warrantying your Base Board System when done as per Unitex Accredited Specifications.

If you or your Builder or Building Surveyor require further information please don’t hesitate to contact me or our Sales Manager Luke Molloy on 03 9768 4900.

Andrew Concannon.
Technical Director.

This conversation provides an insight into why Unitex has been, and is currently, the market leader in compliant lightweight EIFS cladding, with the most highly accredited and tested solution available in Australia. 

Unitex Base Board is warranted for 7 years if used as specified.  Good builders only use National Construction Code (NCC) compliant materials.

Unitex Base Board from the outset, was designed to provide builders and owners a ‘safe for life’ insulation cladding solution.  One that provides huge energy savings, whilst keeping the occupants as safe as possible.  Polystyrene foam is the ultimate insulator and this is why it is the current world standard for EIFS systems, using fire retarded polystyrene foam without incident.

The London high-rise fire, and similar incidents around the world, including recently in Melbourne, are cause for concern and will hopefully produce meaningful action – that all cladding should be as vigorously tested and accredited as Unitex’s Base Board solution is.

It is sad that it has taken the loss of innocent lives to bring about positive change required for a safe future.