The heat is on for Australian buildings to replace unsafe cladding
Building safety is a major concern for regulators, committees and property owners. Here is a recount of the latest regulations around cladding across our different states.
When it comes to cladding regulations, the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland are of one view – combustible cladding material such as Aluminium Composite Panels (ACP) are banned from use. The heat is on for building owners to comply with the new regulations.
Following the tragic fires in London’s Grenfell Tower last year and Melbourne’s Lacrosse Building in 2014, there’s been a flurry of amendments to existing regulations to make buildings and properties safer across Australia.
Here are the latest updates for combustible cladding across the states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria:
New South Wales (NSW)
NSW has amended the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017 specifically prohibiting the use of flammable metal cladding material such as ACP if the panel core has more than 30% polyethylene. Other metal composite cladding material such as zinc, copper, etc. are also considered equally at risk.
Strata properties having residential and mixed-use buildings that are more than two storeys high need to compulsorily register details of their ownership and cladding material used in their building via the online cladding registration portal within the specified timelines.
Buildings occupied after 22 October 2018 need to be registered within four months of occupation. And those occupied before this date need to be registered by 22 February 2019.
The Building and Other Legislation (Cladding) Amendment Regulation 2018 (Qld) mandates the committee (on behalf of property owners) to register online and give a copy of a completed cladding checklist (part 1) for the building to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) by 29 March 2019.
Owners can choose to extend the period of complying by applying 28 days before the deadline lapses i.e. 1 March 2019, but no one is completely exempted from doing so.
Recently, the deadlines for part 2 and part 3a cladding compliance have been extended by the QLD government to accommodate requests from property owners for more time to complete the checklist. Owners now have an additional two months to have their buildings professionally assessed for combustible cladding and should submit the checklist by 31 July 2019 as part 2 cladding compliance.
Part 3 of the assessment for fire safety should be carried out by 31 October 2019 and overall replacement of unsafe cladding should be completed by 3 May 2021. For more detailed information, click here.
In its recent amendment of the Building Amendment (Registration of Building Trades and Other Matters) Bill 2018, the Victorian government also issued a ban on using ACP with polyethylene and expanded polystyrene (EPS) cores.
A recent audit by the Victorian Cladding Taskforce shows that out of a total 4700 buildings inspected, about 384 are using potentially combustible cladding and 21 need immediate cladding replacement. Owners must test for flammable cladding and replace them to ensure safety of their buildings.
The new regulations are applicable to certain types of buildings that are of mixed-use and residential type and have generally more than two stories. Building owners and their owners corporations will be notified by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) at least 48 hours ahead of a scheduled inspection and must comply with the notice. Government authorised building inspectors will assess the external and common areas of strata buildings to check for inflammable cladding and submit reports for further assessment.
Once the reports are duly analysed by a panel of fire-safety professionals and building surveyors, you should immediately replace any unsafe cladding that may be found.
What action does the committee need to take?
As a committee or body corporate you should:
- Register your buildings online within the deadline specified by your state
- Comply with the testing of the cladding materials used in your buildings
- Replace all inflammable cladding to ensure the safety of your buildings
- Provide a report if it’s mandated by your state
- Retain a copy of cladding compliance certificates
What happens if your building does not have any cladding?
If it happens that your building does not have any cladding, the responsibility rests for you to report the status of your building.
If your building does not have any cladding, the responsibility rests for you to report the status of your building. While this initial regulation and audit process is focused on “high risk” buildings, ensuring safety and compliance with state legislation can go a long way in protecting your property.
How is this likely to impact your insurance?
If you’ve identified any flammable cladding material being used in your building, make sure to notify your insurer and insurance broker so that the risks are evaluated, and safety recommendations are made. As a separate initiative, many insurers require an assessment as part of their renewal process.
Is this optional?
No. Building owners should note that compliance is mandatory. Make sure to keep an eye on the deadlines for building registration, inspection and submit the required checklists. If your building has unsafe cladding, it needs to be removed immediately – that’s not optional. Failing to do so can mean heavy fines, and worse, fire-related damages can lead to bigger losses.
If you’d like to find out more on building compliance for your strata property, click here to download your free Community Living guide. Or for a consultation to review your common property insurance by our CommunitySure insurance team, click here.