New cladding laws will protect public safety

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Business Infrastructure & Construction Law & Safety

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Recent amendments to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act have far reaching implications for builders, owners and management bodies of multi-storey residential buildings.

Garland Waddington Partner Brendan Bathersby said the introduction of the Building and Other Legislation (Cladding) Amendment Regulation 2018 was in response to horrific events such as the Grenfell Tower fire in the United Kingdom in 2017, which killed 17 people, and the 2014 Lacrosse Tower fire in Melbourne, which caused an estimated $6.5 million of damage.

“When the regulation comes into effect on October 1 this year, body corporates will need to prove that residential buildings have been constructed using non-combustible cladding,” Mr Bathersby said.

“If cladding is non-conforming, then a qualified fire engineer needs to complete a fire risk assessment which will inform whether rectification works are required.”

Under the amended legislation, if a residential block contains combustible external cladding, a notice must be conspicuously displayed on the building and every lot owner and tenant must be given a copy of the notice.

Mr Bathersby said the first step in the assessment process was for eligible building owners/managers in the compliance zone to register and complete an online checklist with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) before 29 March 2019.

“If cladding does not meet the required fire resistance standards, then a risk assessment by a fire engineer needs to be lodged by 3 May 2021, or fines of up to $21,540 could be applied.”

He said while the amendment to the Act was an important step in protecting public safety, it remained unclear at this stage who would be ultimately responsible for rectification costs if cladding proved to be combustible.

“While the body corporate must implement rectification works without delay, it may well have the right to recover those costs from the builder or others involved in the certification process.”

Mr Bathersby said the cladding laws had the potential to push up body corporate fees and insurance premiums, as well as having implications for property buyers and sellers.

“Sellers need to disclose any property defects, and this could affect property resale values if buyers need to factor in the potential cost of higher body corporate fees to cover recladding or the installation of additional fire safety measures,” he said.

To find out more about the regulations and its impacts, contact Brendan Bathersby on (07) 5443 4866 or email brendanb@gwlaw.com.au

 
Garland Waddington :
Third Floor, Cnr The Esplanade & Second Ave, Maroochydore
07 5443 4866
07 5443 1342
Garland Waddington
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