Over the past two years since the tragic fire at the Grenfell Tower in London in 2017, the fire safety risks associated with combustible and non-compliant cladding on high-rise buildings has been highlighted.
Although the presence of combustible cladding is Australia wide, each state has implemented different compliance processes to rectify the situation.
In Queensland, the cladding compliance consisted of a three-part process. The part 1 deadline was at the beginning of the year on 29 March and required buildings to register using an online system and complete the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Safer Building checklist. The checklist was made up of 4 questions. Upon completion of the checklist, you would be prompted to sign a declaration and would either be finished with the cladding checklist, or pushed to progress into part 2.
Buildings that were required to move on to part 2 had to engage a building industry professional, complete the combustible cladding checklist (part 2) and upload the signed and witnessed checklist and building industry professional statement. Depending on the answers uploaded to the online checklist, you would again either be finished with the cladding checklist or pushed to progress into part 3.
In Queensland, part 3a is the next deadline that is approaching on 31 October 2019. This will require all buildings that are progressing to part 3 to engage a fire engineer and register the fire engineer’s details on the Combustible Cladding Checklist.
Part 3b will then need to be completed before the 3 May 2021. This will require the fire engineer to complete a building fire safety risk assessment and statement. These two documents will then need to be uploaded and the online checklist will then need to be filled out and completed.
In NSW, new laws required buildings with combustible cladding to be registered with the NSW Government by 22 February 2019. This allows agencies such as Fire and Rescue to respond appropriately in the event that a fire occurs at a building with combustible cladding.
As well as cladding concerns, the state has been dealing with the major defects of the Opal Tower and Mascot Towers.
Victoria is the first state in Australia to assist in paying a percentage of the rectification costs for combustible cladding on private apartments.
The Victorian State Government announced in July that in Victoria the rectification for buildings that are classified as having extreme or high risk combustible cladding will be funded, at least in part, by the state government. The state government will then seek damages from responsible parties. Initially, it was communicated that apartment owners who had combustible cladding on their building would be responsible for covering the costs of the rectification. The news has been welcomed by those concerned about the high cost of the rectification.
There are many types of cladding which has been used throughout Australia. Should your building have Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP) on the external of the building, it is highly recommended that samples are taken and tested to determine the percentage of the possible polyethylene core and its combustibility. The results of the tests will then determine if the ACP is compliant or non-compliant and will assist the Fire Engineer in his assessment performed in part 3b.
There are currently two Class Actions being run by William Roberts Lawyers in the Federal Court in NSW. One in relation to Alucobond cladding and the other in relation to Vitrabond polyethylene cladding.
Your Strata scheme may wish to explore your own action and the potential recovery actions against particular builders who have installed cladding that now needs to be removed if it was installed in the last 6 years. For further information contact your Community Manager.
Some Bodies Corporate/Owners Corporations may wish to cover the rectification costs through raising a Special Levy. The process for raising a special levy, is similar to the process to set the annual contributions for the scheme but is utilised for special circumstances to cover unexpected costs. In the instance that the scheme was wanting to pay for the expenditure through a special levy, then they will be required to call a General Meeting and set the contributions by Ordinary Resolution.
Where a Special Levy isn’t suitable, another option is for the scheme to apply for a ‘Strata Improvement Loan’. Macquarie Bank is one provider who can provide the upfront funding for the rectification works. If your committee would like further information on your options, SSKB is here to help you.
We have guided many Bodies Corporate and Owners corporation through the cladding compliance process. If you have any questions regarding part 3 of the cladding checklist, click here to contact Star BMS.