Sandwich panels / EPS panels in the food and beverage industry has been around for many years and it is usually quite easy to detect due to the distinctive metal cladding glued on either side of the extruded polystyrene (“EPS”) material. There are, in fact, a wide range of materials used as the insulation infill, but it is treated all the same (but typically not thought of highly) by the insurance industry. Many insurers have it on the decline list if the building contains more than a set percentage of it, such as 30%.
What I have noticed as I drive around, is that a different type of EPS panel is now being incorporated into new homes, smaller unit complexes and some industrial buildings. This is not sandwiched between metal, but is fixed in place with glue or screws to traditional timber or metal framing and then rendered.
The question is, once built and rendered, how many owners would know what the building is made of. Seeing the render they may well think it is masonry and advise their insurer accordingly. This, of course, could lead to innocent non-disclosure.
Looking at some of the insurance websites where you can purchase your insurance online, this type of construction is not an option. This adds to the problem and confirms my suspicion that the insurance industry may not be keeping up to speed with this new form of construction, which is being encouraged due to its good insulation properties.
I feel the whole area needs to be looked at, so over the next few months I will look into the fire rating of the materials being used; how the Building Code of Australia handles the product; is it possible or likely that imported product is being used that may not meet Australian Standards and also the issue of ensuring buildings constructed with the material, or retrofitted with the cladding for environmental or other reasons, are being made watertight. The issue of how the material would stand up to a hail or other violent storms, compared to more conventional cladding is also of interest to me.
It should be an interesting project and I am sure I will learn a lot and will share what I find with subscribers to the blog in articles and podcasts.