Combustible Cladding

March 18, 2019

Recent tragedies such as the Lacrosse Docklands fire and the fire at Grenfell Tower in London, the latter of which resulted in the deaths of 72 people, have brought about increased scrutiny of the risks associated with combustible cladding.

The Victorian Government is conducting a Statewide Cladding Audit. This audit involves inspection of apartment buildings to determine if combustible cladding (such as expanded polystyrene or aluminium composite panels with a polyethelene core) was used in its construction.

Apartment buildings or hotels of three or more storeys, or hospitals, schools and aged care facilities of two or more storeys, that were built after March 1997, will be inspected as part of the audit.

The assessment can result in the Council requiring the owners of the building to take immediate steps to make the building safer. This can include installing smoke alarms, removing ignition sources such as barbeques and clearing fire exits.

The Council can also issue a Building Order requiring replacement of the combustible cladding with a safer material.

To assist with meeting the cost of these works, which can be substantial, building owners can apply for a Cladding Rectification Agreement. This is a three-way arrangement between owners, lenders and the Council to fund the works and will be paid by owners as a charge on the Council rates notice.

If you currently own an apartment that may be affected by the audit, you may wish to ask your Owners Corporation manager if they know what cladding is used on the building and if an audit is planned in the near future.

If you are intending to purchase an apartment, the Victorian Building Authority has a checklist on their website of the recommend steps to take before purchasing: http://www.vba.vic.gov.au/cladding.

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