About cladding and checks

Workers installing cladding on a section of the roof of the Singapore Sports Hub.
Workers installing cladding on a section of the roof of the Singapore Sports Hub. PHOTO: ST FILE

Q What is cladding?

A It is a type of "skin" or extra layer on the outside of a building. It can be attached to a building's framework or an intermediate layer of shafts or spacers. Typically used to stop wind and rain from entering the building or for sound insulation. It is also used to make a building's exterior look more attractive.

Q What are the different classes of cladding?

A There are five classes of composite panels, from the most stringent Class 0 rating to the least stringent Class 4. While still combustible, Class 0 rated panels are certified to not allow the spread of fire on the surface and will burn only at a localised area.

Q How common is composite panel cladding found in Singapore and what does the Fire Code say regarding its use?

A Since the Fire Code was introduced in 1974, all building materials used in Singapore had to comply with it.

Cladding, however, was not commonly used till the 1980s, and the code had been updated several times since. Old buildings need only follow the prevailing code when it was built.

Q Do Housing Board flats have cladding?

A A vast majority of HDB blocks do not use cladding or use only non-combustible cladding, such as fully aluminium panels.

Only a small number of HDB blocks use composite panels as cladding on lift shaft exteriors. These panels meet fire safety requirements, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force after conducting checks.

Q Will there be checks on the rest of buildings in Singapore?

A The 41 buildings were checked because they used the same Alubond-branded composite cladding as the ones used in the industrial building at 30, Toh Guan Road, where a fire killed one person in May.

Alubond is solely distributed by Chip Soon Aluminium here.

Q Who pays for the removal and replacement of the panels?

A In most cases, the building owners will have to soak up the costs for now. A spokesman for ESR Funds Management, which manages 30, Toh Guan Road, said they paid for the removal of the panels and will eventually find replacement panels. They declined to reveal how much they spent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2017, with the headline 'About cladding and checks'. Print Edition | Subscribe