Is your building one of the thousands of bodies corporate that contains some form of combustible cladding in Australia? Are you registered on the Queensland Safer Buildings Cladding Register and heading toward the Stage 3b deadline? Are you wondering what to do next?
The Building and Other Legislation [Cladding] Amendment Regulation 2018 [Queensland] was introduced as an amendment to the Building Regulation 2006 [Queensland] in October 2018. It essentially outlaws the use of combustible cladding materials in Class 2-9, Type A and B construction in new buildings, and requires removal [or risk management] if installed in buildings older than 1st January 1994, built prior to 1st October 2018.
If your building falls inside this category should have by now registered at Stage 1 and 2 of the Safer Buildings Cladding Register and looking toward completing Stage 3b. Most likely by now, you will have engaged a fire engineer and possibly completed your Cladding Report. If you have done this, you will also be displaying your Affected Private Building Notice [Form 42] in the entry area as well as informing all your Occupants of the presence of cladding in the building via the Affected Private Building Notice [Form 42].
It is likely that at Stage 2 your building would have been flagged with the Queensland Fire & Emergency Service [“QFES”] as a higher risk property so that if a fire breaks out on site, the fire brigade can come prepared for a potential combustible cladding emergency. At least you can expect a prompt response to your fire alarm call! [Perhaps a small perk of the “Big Brother” is watching scenario…]
Safer Buildings Cladding Register – Stage 3b Deadline – 3rd May 2021
For applicable buildings you have until 03.05.2021 to have your Building Fire Safety Risk Assessment [“BFSRA”] statement completed by the fire engineer. This statement will detail the extent of risk and propose remedial options to eliminate or reduce that risk as well as interim measures to implement until you remove [or otherwise] your cladding.
Interim mitigation measures are simply actions to be taken to reduce the risk of a catastrophic fire event occurring prior to the building owner can getting sufficiently organised to install the suggested upgrades required to eliminate the cladding fire risk. These may include additional evacuation procedures, extra notices around the building, changes to smoking onsite rules etc. These interim fire safety measures will be prescribed within the fire engineer’s report and are likely to also be detailed by your building insurer.
The most important thing to focus on at Stage 3b is the implementation of the interim fire mitigation measures recommended by the fire engineer in the BFSRA and the insurer under the policy for the building.
As a Body Corporate [and/or a Facilities Manager or Caretaker under a caretaking agreement with the Body Corporate] it is important that you retain an audit trail of implementing the prescribed interim fire mitigation measures. If a fire event were to occur on the common property of the scheme, the insurer would certainly be requiring these records as evidence of vigilance in risk management. Readers of this article who have influence over the common property [i.e. Committee members, strata managers or building managers] are encouraged to take heed and ascertain who [i.e. which individual] is taking care of this important duty.
How long do we have until we have to remove our cladding or upgrade our fire protection system?
If your fire engineer has prescribed that full removal of cladding [or some sort of upgrade to the fire protection system] is ultimately required to deem your building to be compliant under the Regulation and Building Code of Australia, it is likely that these measures will require significant costs and outlays.
There doesn’t appear to be a deadline for how long you can continue to implement your interim fire mitigation measures and avoid cladding upgrade building works or fire protection system upgrades, however we expect that your insurer will have something to say about it! Expect changes to your insurance policy if you have combustible cladding and are implementing interim fire mitigation measures, so the key to your decision making is the cost of insurance premium increases over time, versus the cost to undertake the required building works.
Building upgrades required due to combustible cladding concerns can be expensive and involve a great deal of financial distress and disruption to bodies corporate. The temptation to put these works off will for various reasons will no doubt be there, however, the primary repercussion of avoiding replacement of your combustible cladding and relying on interim fire mitigation measures is likely to be a spike in your insurance premium, additional excess charges and potentially further requirements imposed by your insurer. Eventually, your building may find itself uninsurable.
When projecting costs for cladding or fire protection system upgrades, don’t forget to include these other associated costs: –
- Q-Leave Levy [for works over $150,000]
- Private Certification [these works will be considered assessable under the Building Codes and will require certification]
- Engineering [design and certification]
- Project Management
- Colour consultant
- Town Planning Consultant – if you are changing the colour of your cladding you may also need to get an amendment to the Development Approval
For further information on getting moving on your cladding replacement program, please get in touch or consider obtaining specialist legal advice.
This article was contributed by Lynda Kypriadakis, Managing Director – Diverse FMX