28 May New Cladding Laws – A win for all lot owners!
New Cladding Laws – A win for all lot owners!
All Queenslanders have the right to feel safe in all buildings where they live, work and play.
After several meetings with Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) representatives along with government officials, including the Qld Deputy Premier and Minister de Brenni, I was pleased to see authorities have listened to stakeholder advice and granted an extension to the Stage 2 cladding compliance deadline. The specific governance requirements outlined in the Body Corporate and Community Management Act and its Regulations were always going to make the original timeline tough for strata owners to meet, so providing them with an extra two months will increase the chances that building owners are able to meet their reporting responsibilities. Unfortunately, although we were able to persuade the government that an extension was necessary, discussions regarding the assessment procedure are ongoing.
Safety is paramount but, as I and other representatives of SCA (Qld) explained, many of the materials deemed combustible are already compliant with the National Construction Code and Building Code of Australia. Owners should not be left with thousands of dollars in costs to report on materials that are not unsafe. The intention of the Non-Conforming Building Products Audit Taskforce was to identify dangerous Aluminium Composite Panelling and similar materials, not generally flammable materials. Regrettably, government officials continue to insist that certain building materials deemed combustible under the Cladding Regulation were intentionally captured as such ie ceramic tiles, weatherboard, Weathertex, canvas, fabric, timber or shadesails.
Thankfully, consultation is ongoing, and we will continue to push for adjustments to the compliance system. We have stressed that there should be an option to rectify or modify the building without a costly inspection because owners shouldn’t be forced to pay for a report outlining a problem if they are already in the process of fixing it. Our suggestion is that bodies corporate, who know they have a truly combustible material on their façade and would like the opportunity to rectify, be given a reasonable time to do so.
Nearly two years have passed since the disastrous Grenfell Tower fire, in which 71 people lost their lives, but many apartment owners remain mired in cladding uncertainty. Minister de Brenni is to be congratulated for his swift response to our concerns that tight compliance timeframes would see many building owners struggle to meet the deadline. However, we continue to urge the QBCC to carefully examine respondents’ Stage 2 declarations to ensure buildings are not unnecessarily burdened with the very significant costs of compliance associated with Stage 3.
Every resident of a strata building has the right to be safe in their own home, but they should not be forced to pay avoidable expenses brought about regulatory confusion.
Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport
The Honourable Mick de Brenni’s media release can be found here http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2019/5/14/palaszczuk-government-to-extend-safer-buildings-program-deadlines-to-assist-property-owners
More information on the Safer Buildings for Queensland initiative can be found here https://www.saferbuildings.qld.gov.au/
Simon Barnard is the Managing Director and Principal of Hartley’s Body Corporate Management which is a medium sized strata firm established in 2004 at Sherwood and now operating out of Graceville, Newstead, North Lakes and Bribie Island. Simon is in his 6th year as President of the Board of Strata Community Australia (QLD) and was recently recognised for his service to the industry with a fellowship of the organisation and Life Membership.
Simon also is a past board member on the SCA National Board and is engaged at an International level through many consultative groups and associations. He meets regularly with the Industry Stakeholders group which is convened by the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management and the Office of the Attorney General and actively engages at all levels of government.
Simon has recently been invited to represent the Strata industry on the QLD Government Ministerial Housing Consultative Committee tasked with advising on developing and delivering quality housing outcomes for people and communities. His contributions at an International, National and State level involve working with key stakeholders and government to ensure lot owners, industry employees, suppliers and Bodies Corporate needs are addressed through Government policy reform, education and training.