The latest on cladding: is your building fire proof?

Finding it hard to keep up with changes to combat the cladding crisis? Here’s what is happening across Australia

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It’s 2019 and two years have passed since a fire destroyed the Grenfell Tower in London, sparking widespread concern about faulty building materials and industry regulation.

While change has been slow, laws and regulations have shifted around the world including Australia.

As the cladding saga continues, here are the latest updates across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland:

Victoria

The Victorian government has named Dan O’Brien as the new CEO of Cladding Safety Victoria.

It follows news of a $600 million-dollar cladding rectification fund to amend faulty cladding on 500 high risk buildings. The 16 July announcement this year is a first for Australia and a win for property owners facing huge rectification costs. The funds will go towards:

  • Project management support.
  • Professional design services.
  • Building surveying.
  • Permits and approvals.
  • Building materials and rectification works.

A state-wide cladding audit was carried out by the Victorian Cladding Taskforce, involving over 2,200 inspections. The findings were: 1070 buildings identified as having cladding with 500 of those classified as high risk.

New South Wales

David Chandler became the New South Wales Building Commissioner on August 14. It comes at an interesting time as the state battles a cladding crisis and Sydney recovers from the Opal Tower and Mascot Tower incidents.

The state government introduced laws that were enacted last October, which has meant building owners or their nominated representatives are required to register certain buildings to an online portal, that is, the cladding register.

The findings were: 1400 buildings identified as having cladding with 600 of those classified as high risk.

While the government is enforcing measures, property owners have been left footing the bill for external cladding removal and remediation costs.

In a bid to address concerns, the New South Wales Strata Community Association (SCA) met with Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson. On 31 July, the SCA delivered a seven-point plan to the minister on building standard failures and flammable cladding problems.

Queensland

It appears combustible cladding could be banned on all Queensland buildings following industry support for proposed regulations discussed at the Ministerial Construction Council in July 2019.

It follows revelations 237 buildings have flammable cladding across the state.

In response to the cladding crisis, the Queensland government has imposed a three part compliance process:

  • Part 1:Buildings to be registered and for building owners to complete the combustible cladding checklist by 29 March 2019.
  • Part 2: The building industry professional statement completed by 31 July 2019.
  • Part 3A: Engage fire engineers and register by 31 October 2019.
  • Part 3B: Complete the building fire safety risk assessment, the fire engineer statement and the combustible cladding checklist by 3 May 2021.

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Lessons from Sydney’s residential building, Opal and Mascot Towers.

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