Cladding in apartments
Do you have concerns with possible combustible cladding on an apartment building that you live in, or are considering purchasing?
Due to tragic fires both in Australia and overseas, certain cladding types have been prohibited for use on new buildings in Victoria as they are considered ‘combustible’.
A taskforce was created to provide advice on how to address the use of these materials and the risk they pose. As a result, the Victorian Building Authority commenced auditing identified buildings. Each audit is then reviewed by a panel with recommendations made, that are then enforced by a council Municipal Building Surveyor.
What is combustible cladding?
The VBA’s term of ‘combustible cladding’ refers to two main cladding types that have been used on apartments and public buildings
- Expanded polystyrene (EPS)
- Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP)
Both of these cladding types have been identified as posing an increased risk in the event of a fire.
If you live in (or own) an apartment building that has combustible cladding, then it may be audited. If this is the case, then the VBA will contact your Owners Corporation.
Who is the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) and what is their role relating to cladding?
The VBA regulates the building and plumbing industries in Victoria. They are working with councils, and the CSV in conjunction with owners and owners’ corporations to investigate, assess and take appropriate action in regards to the use of combustible cladding on buildings within Victoria.
They have important information regarding;
- current audits,
- roles and responsibilities of residents, owners, and owners’ corporations
- building rectification works
- fire safety
Find out more about combustible cladding and the Victorian Building Authority (vba.vic.gov.au)
Who is Cladding Safety Victoria (CSV) and what is their role relating to cladding?
Cladding Safety Victoria (CSV) was formed in 2019 to assist owners and Owners Corporations in the rectification of buildings (both public and private) and performs the following functions:
- Communicating with affected owner corporations, owners and the public
- Putting owners’ corporations in touch with industry professionals
- Monitoring rectification works on affected buildings
To provide support and funding to owner’s corporations to complete rectification works (if the building meets the required criteria)
Find out more about CSV here: About Cladding Safety Victoria | Victorian Government (www.vic.gov.au)
What happens if a determination to issue the enforcement order / notice is made on my building?
- If a building notice/order is issued, then get in touch with your Owners Corporation to understand what their actions will be to respond to the enforcement.
The Municipal Building Surveyor will issue the notice/order to them (as your representative) and is legally charged with pursuing action to ensure that the building meets the Building Regulatory framework.
What works are required?
The detail of the specific works will be included in the Notice/Order that is issued, and may include
- Removal of part/all of the combustible cladding
- Upgrades to essential safety measures
- An updated Annual Essential Safety Measure Report (AESMR) which has been reviewed by a Private building surveyor
This will also include timeframes within which the works are to occur.
Who is responsible for the works or what will my owners' corporation need to do?
The owners represented by the Owners Corporation are responsible for completing any works that are required as a part of a Building Notice or Order.
The works may require that specialists including a qualified Private Building Surveyor, Fire Engineer, architects, builders to be engaged. This needs to be done privately and the Owners Corporation will need to meet the costs involved of both the consultants and the works.
How long does it take for an enforcement order / notice to be completed and cancelled?
The enforcement order / notice process can take some time to address the matters raised, this can vary substantially as orders/notice are individualised.
An enforcement order / notice will only be cancelled when the owner’s corporation or an approved agent provides the council with adequate evidence that addresses all the issues raised on the order / notice.
What are essential safety measures (ESMs) and what is required from my owners' corporation?
Essential safety measures are building safety features designed to support occupants in the case of a fire. The list of ESMs is mentioned on your occupancy permit which is displayed within the building.
They include fire doors, exit doors and paths, illuminated signage, smoke detectors, sprinklers, fire hydrants, hoses and reels.
ESMs must be maintained, with a report updated yearly to ensure they are up to date and operational. This is a function of the owners' corporation.
In some instances where a Building Notice has been issued, an upgrade of the ESMs may be approved (by a private building surveyor) in lieu of partial or complete replacement of cladding.
Why were buildings allowed to be built with combustible cladding and will there be any compensation?
The Taskforce identified issues with building processes including the certification of some cladding materials.
There is no compensation available for homeowners in place by the Government.
Owners and owners’ corporations can pursue legal advice to determine whether any compensation can be sought.
What is Council’s role?
Council’s Municipal Building Surveyor (MBS) has a role to ensure that buildings within the municipality are meeting the Building Regulatory framework.
Where emergency works are required regarding cladding, the MBS will issue a notice and / or order and then ensure that the notice / order is enacted.
Who is the BAB and what is a modification application?
The Building Appeals Board (BAB) is an independent statutory body established under the Building Act 1993. The BAB makes determinations about building control matters and seeks the best possible outcomes for the Victorian building industry and the community as a whole, in accordance with the Act
The BAB receive and assess modification applications; such as combustible cladding which vary the Building Act and Regulations.
Find out more about the Building Appeals Board
More cladding resources
How do I know if my building has combustible cladding?
Auditing combustible cladding in Victoria
About Cladding Safety Victoria
Find a registered Building Surveyor
Use the Building Commission's tool to search for a registered building surveyor.