Combustible cladding: The hidden water ingress issues

High-rise apartment owners in Australia are faced with a myriad of building defects, with combustible cladding considered as just the “tip of the iceberg.” Many apartment owners also need to pay to fix some of the widespread problems, brought on by water penetration and incomplete safety systems.

An article from Financial Review discusses the crisis of combustible cladding, which makes apartments unsaleable and prevents owners from renewing insurance policies on their buildings. According to the report by Deakin University’s Nicole Johnston and Griffith University’s Sacha Reid, nearly every building in NSW and about three-quarters of all buildings in Victoria and Queensland had defects that pointed to much bigger costs for owners to come.

 “I don’t want to downplay the issue in relation to combustible cladding, but I think water penetration issues in buildings are much, much bigger,” Johnston said. She cited how the problem is very widespread, even going as far as saying that the country is facing a crisis.

Building fabric (masonry, joinery, plastering and slab work) and facades were where most defects were encountered. Faults such as poor sealing and insulation have made water ingress and moisture the most common problem.

Combustible cladding could be remedied by removing non-compliant panels and replacing with a safer alternative. However, the remedies for water ingress, which could lead to dampness and mould and trigger respiratory conditions, often require removing superficial layers such as room walls and balcony surfaces to access and replace the construction work behind them. Fortunately, waterproofing problems are easier to diagnose as water shows up where it isn’t supposed to be.

At Industry Best Construction, we emphasise the importance of addressing waterproofing issues, eliminating defects and educating industry professionals on products and techniques that comply with Australian standards. Through education, we aim to minimise building failures brought about by waterproofing issues.

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