A total of 24 buildings have failed checks of their external cladding so far, more than a month after the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) announced that at least 41 buildings here were clad in material that may not meet the fire safety code.
The checks were to assess whether the buildings are safe for occupancy. All external cladding not rated as Class 0, the most stringent rating for combustible panels, has to be removed.
A further three buildings, including the tallest building in Singapore - Guoco Tower at Tanjong Pagar Centre, opted to remove their exterior cladding without going through any tests.
Alubond, a brand of aluminium composite panels, was singled out by the SCDF after it was found not to have sufficient fire protection. It was used as external cladding on a building in Toh Guan Road where a deadly fire broke out in May.
The removal of panels that do not meet the code has a bearing on insurance. So long as they are promptly removed, there will be no need to raise premiums or reduce coverage of insurance for buildings, said insurers here.
A spokesman for the General Insurance Association of Singapore said: "The immediate action taken by SCDF to work with building owners to rectify the situation within two months helps to ensure safe and secure homes and work environments in the longer term."
However, a spokesman for insurer Aviva said coverage for owners of private, landed homes with non-regulation cladding may be affected if they do not take any corrective action. "If they know they are at risk and refuse to do anything about it, it's possible that an insurer can decline the claim because of lack of due diligence," he said.
The product has been removed from the market by distributor Chip Soon Aluminium, but some building sub-contractors are demanding a refund or refusing to pay for their unsold stocks, the Straits Times has learnt.
Contractor Peh Beng Guan of PBG Aluminium and Glazing Works, told ST he wants a refund for the 75 Alubond panels in his warehouse, for which he had paid $29,025, but which no architect or contractor will touch now.
A contracts manager from another sub-contractor, Mr C. S. Lee, said his firm has been billed around $200,000 for Alubond-branded panels which they purchased from Chip Soon earlier this year, but is refusing to pay the amount as the product did not satisfy SCDF's regulations for external use. In Singapore, only panels that curb fire from spreading across the surface can be used on the building exterior.
"It has been very problematic for us to change from Alubond to another brand," said Mr Lee, who spoke on condition that his firm's name is not mentioned.
However, Chip Soon claims the Alubond panels meet a more reliable and accurate standard accepted around the world. ST understands that the panel distributor had also obtained certificates of compliance from locally accredited certification body TUV SUD PSB.
Said a Chip Soon spokesman: "The manufacturer is preparing a thorough report based on (its) intricate knowledge of the engineered product. It is standing firm on its quality and its products are certified by reputable and accredited testing procedures in international labs."