The period for home owners in Victoria to make claims over the use of non-compliant flammable panels on their buildings has been extended.
Owners now have an additional three years to make claims, lengthening the period from 12 to 15 years.
It sets a new deadline of December, 2026 for legal action to commence, building on the original 10-year liability period that came into effect last December.
In February, the Victorian government announced a new amendment to the state’s building code which banned the use of aluminium composite panels with a core of less than 93 per cent inert mineral filler and expanded polystyrene products used in an external insulation of multi-storey buildings.
The state government committed $7 million towards insurance to force builders to take on rectification work on hundreds of residential buildings covered with combustible cladding across the Victoria.
The policy will cover the work of builders and practitioners on rectification jobs overseen by agency Cladding Safety Victoria as securing professional indemnity insurance for cladding-related work on the open market not possible at this point.
Cladding Safety Victoria will now go after developers on behalf of owners, with penalties available of $80,000 for individuals and up to $400,000 for businesses.
It currently has cladding removal and replacement projects complete or under way on 200 residential apartment buildings across the state with another 53 having signed funding agreements and due to commence work soon.
Work has been completed on 60 public buildings, including 40 school buildings, eight Victoria Police stations, seven public housing complexes and stadia.
However, the list of buildings needing cladding rectification is now growing by an estimated 10 to 15 buildings each month.
More than 700 buildings have been classified as in the highest risk categories, well above the government’s original estimate of 500 when it announced a $600-million rectification package in the Victorian budget of 2019-20.
The original funding and program—scheduled to run for five years—was initially projected to support rectifying cladding on the government’s stated 500 figure.
Cladding Safety Victoria chief executive Dan O’Brien said soon after his appointment in August, 2019 that he expected the total to rise on the government’s early estimates.
More than 3200 properties have been inspected during the past three years as part of Victoria’s statewide cladding audit.
Work began this week to remove high-risk cladding from a Darlington apartment building, the first of more than 150 in NSW registered for the government’s Project Remediate program.
The work on the building comes seven years after a fire in Melbourne’s Lacrosse tower, which was fuelled by combustible cladding.
The NSW government said the program would provide no-interest loans, free expert program management and the assurance that when remediation work is completed, the work will be accepted by insurers.
NSW building commissioner David Chandler said the program had been set up with a consistent approach which assured owners their interests are considered the highest priority.
“Cladding removal and building remediation is not just about taking off a piece of cladding and replacing it with another,” Chandler said.
“It’s an opportunity to get a thorough up-front investigation and assessment of the building to determine what is needed to do the job properly.”
More than 100 apartment and office buildings in the City of Sydney have been classified as at high risk of fire because of flammable cladding.
The state government set aside $139 million in its November budget towards what it said would be a three-year rectification process for the 225 buildings, but has not yet said how the process will be rolled out.