Have you completed the Combustible Cladding Safe review? Deadline is 29 March!

Have you completed the Combustible Cladding Safe review on your buildings yet? If you are an owner of any building over one storey you may need to complete the Combustible Cladding review, before 29 March 2019. Please contact us if you have questions on 4638 1133

 

The Combustible Cladding Safe Review, is a Safer Buildings Initiative. It’s 10 questions, broken into 3 parts. If you pass the 1st part you may not need to answer the remaining 2 parts.

What’s the Combustible Cladding review about?

The Queensland Government recently amended legislation relating to cladding and, in particular, requirements for certain buildings to be assessed for potentially combustible cladding.

The legislation is a response to recommendations from a taskforce established in June 2017 after the Grenfell Tower Fire in the United Kingdom. A catastrophic fire started on the fourth floor of the building, spreading so quickly that the death toll reached 72 people.  Fire experts believe the cause of the fire spreading so rapidly and engulfing the entire block was the newly installed external cladding (found to be banned by British regulations and as per the manufacturer specifications).

A similar tragedy had already occurred in Australia in 2014 in the Lacrosse building in Melbourne.  

Cladding fires continue to make the headlines. We don’t want yours to be one of them!

Which buildings does this legislation affect?

If you are an owner of any building over one storey and:-

  • it is a Class 2 to 9 building
  • it is a type A or type B construction;
  • a building development approval has been given after 1st January 1994 but before 1st October 2018 for building work to build the building or to alter the cladding on the building;
  • it is privately owned.

Excluding:-

  • a private, single detached dwelling (commonly referred to and used as a single dwelling or house), used for residential purposes (being a Class 1 building which is not located above or below another dwelling, or another class of building other than a private garage); or
  • one of a group of two or more private attached dwellings situated side by side to another attached dwelling (commonly referred to as a duplex, townhouse or row housing); or
  • a private carport/garage or shed used in association with a dwelling (Class 10a building).

Building owners may need to access Council records to see when any building approvals for the building were issued.

To register your building please visit: https://www.saferbuildings.qld.gov.au/

DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: You’ll notice throughout the Housing and Public Works & Safer Buildings websites, they are calling this “Review” a ‘Checklist’ or ‘Assessment’. We’ve called it a “review” so you’ll do something about it before 29 March 2019. There are stiff monetary penalties that will apply if you don’t comply and we hope to help you avoid these penalties by stressing how important it is to do it before the set date. If you’ve received a letter from QBCC stating a different compliance date, please do the review by the date stated in the letter.     

 

The Combustible Cladding Safe Review

Although the legislation will mostly apply namely to buildings which are three storeys or more, some buildings which are two storeys (which are considered to be a “Type B” construction) may be captured.

Owners of these buildings must register their private buildings on the Safer Buildings Website by the 29th March 2019.  However if you have received a notice from the QBCC then registration needs to be done by the date set out in your notice.  

The government expects that one in three people who come into the system will be automatically exited in stage 1. If the online system determines the building is not affected the website will automatically register an exclusion of the building from further consideration and the building owner will have completed their regulatory obligations for the building.  

However, if the online system determines that the building remains potentially affected the owner will be required to proceed with Part 2 and potentially Part 3 of the Checklist by the required deadlines

Why do I need to register if my building does not have any cladding?

Formal arrangements have been entered into for sharing of information between the QBCC and the Queensland Fire Service so that the fire brigade can escalate its response to a call out to a particular property if needs be.

If your building is of a category set out above, you will need to register your building even if:-

  • you own a brick building with no exterior cladding,
  • you hold a recognised certificate for cladding for the building (such as a certificate of conformity issued by the Australian Building Codes Board or under the scheme known as “CodeMark”);
  • you have complied with all building approvals.

What questions do I need to answer?

The Safer Buildings website will ask a series of questions in 3 parts.

PART 1: (Questions 1 to 4) Will cover broadly on the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA)

PART 2: (Questions 5 & 6) Will require a deeper knowledge or understanding of the BCA and require a Building Industry professional to assist you.

PART 3: (Questions 7 to 10) Will require specialist knowledge in Fire Engineering principles.

The Department of Housing and Public Works has created an in depth Combustible Cladding Assessment Guideline (page 14) which details the questions and registration process.

Some handy tips to answering these questions:

  • know what the building is used for. They’ll give you a dropdown list of 12 options (See pages 24, 25, 26 and 27 of the Guideline for more details);
  • how many levels are in the building;
  • the total floor area of the building;
  • which building materials are used for the external wall cladding, soffits and building attachments (such as architectural features, sunshades and awnings).  

The answers to these questions are not always straightforward and may entail some specialist knowledge. Defective compliance is as bad as non-compliance and so you need to make sure that you answer these questions properly.  

If you are not sure of:-

  • the use of your building, as it may have changed since a Certificate of Classification was issued for the Building;
  • The number of levels, (which is a technical question different from the definition of “storey”); and
  • The floor area of the building, as terms like “net lettable area” or “net usable area” are only an indication of the floor area of the building and there may be areas outside of these areas which significantly increase the overall floor area;  

Then seek some advice from an appropriately qualified builder, certifier, architect and professional civil fire safety structural engineer.  Pages 5 and 6 of the Combustible Cladding Assessment Guideline suggest who is an appropriate “building industry professional” for the purposes of the legislation.

What if I miss any of the deadlines?

Missing a deadline will attract a fine of up to $2,611 and also means that the building is automatically elevated to the next level of compliance obligations.

You can make application to the QBCC for an extension of time. However, the deadline for applying for an extension is 1st March 2019.  To do this, Building Owners need to fill out the Form 31 Extension of time request.

Please Note: there is no guarantee that the QBCC will grant the extension as the extension is at the discretion of the Commission.  The QBCC would need to be satisfied that you have a legitimate reason for asking for more time.

What next?

As Building Owners, we know you have enough compliance obligations, doing more does not sound fun. However, beyond the very real ramifications (as listed below) we don’t want you or your building to become a headline because you didn’t comply.

Putting your head in the sand to address “another day” will automatically ratchet you through the process.  Along with some stiff penalties, you may also end up needing to produce a fulsome report from a qualified fire engineer.  This could prove expensive particularly if a fire engineer is required to undertake testing of a sample of cladding.

Failure to take measures could have other adverse ramifications to a building owner such as:-

  • insurance coverage implications and premium increases;
  • breaches of workplace health and safety requirements which can carry strict liability for company directors and managers;
  • increased liability for owners and other responsible persons (such as company directors) in the event of damage to people or property caused by combustible cladding;
  • difficulties in selling the property;
  • committing an act of default under the owner’s finance documents because there is a material adverse affect on the value of the property or because the owner has failed to comply with all laws.

If you have any questions about your obligations (or if you are looking to buy a building which may be affected in Toowoomba, Warwick, Chinchilla or Dalby region) please feel free to contact any member of our commercial property team on 4638 1133.

 

About the author:

Leesa Beresford is a Senior Solicitor in the Commercial, Property and Rural Law areas of Wonderley & Hall. Her expertise covers business & property succession, leasing, financing, franchising and retirement villages. When Leesa is not working at Wonderley and Hall she enjoys pounding laps at the pool, trying out recipes from around the world and going on long walks and other adventures with her teenage son and miniature schnauzer called Chewie.

Wonderley & Hall is a full service law firm based in Toowoomba, serving the Darling Downs, South Burnett and Surat Basin region. We handle Commercial, Family Law, Criminal and other General Litigation matters. If you need help with a legal matter, please call (07) 4638 1133

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