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Experts Reaffirm Need For Cladding Proactivity

Owners Corporations Must Seek Cladding Answers

Australian cladding experts and building surveyors AESG have reaffirmed that owners should work proactively to understand what materials have been used on their building.

The Victorian Building Authority and local councils are continuing to audit buildings and are issuing building notices at an increasing rate.

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ACP (Aluminium Composite Panel) and EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) are the main types of cladding the audit is looking to identify and remove from Victorian buildings.

AESG Cladding Team Leader Matt Gale attended Strata Plan’s offices last week to deliver an educational update to our Owners Corporation Managers and Insurance Team on the state of the ongoing audit, the difference between council notices and VBA notices and the trends they are seeing unfold as the auditing continues.

Mr Gale said one of the biggest trends he was seeing that while most notices can be delayed or downgraded through various means of “de-risking” a building, it is unlikely a notice will be completely be removed until the cladding is addressed.

“From what we’ve seen, once a property has some sort of building notice or emergency order either issued by the council or the VBA until the issuer is comfortable that you’ve reached the ideal resolution, the order will stay open,” he said.

“The ideal resolution for them normally involves some form of removal and replacement of the suspect cladding.”

Despite this, Mr Gale continued to stress the importance of maintenance for essential safety measures and fire services within buildings.

“It’s so important to make sure that the routine maintenance and checks are occurring and being performed by qualified contractors, as well as ensuring that anything that needs to be upgraded or fixed is done straight away,” he said.

“That’s critical to making sure that if something does happen, everyone in the building is as safe as possible and able to evacuate the building.”

While orders have been issued at an increasing rate and many Owners Corporations have had to act to remove cladding from their buildings, Mr Gale said he has yet to see any Owners Corporation go through the process of applying for a Cladding Rectification Agreement (CRA) through the council.

The CRAs are a low-interest loan which is a joint venture between the applicant Owners Corporation, the local council and a lender.

However, to apply for such a loan successfully – every lot owner within the Owners Corporation must pass through rigorous credit checks in applying for the loan.

“To date, I’m not aware of anyone that has signed up for the CRA through the council,” Gale said.

“The OCs we have worked with have secured their own loans or raised special levies to cover the cost of cladding removal works.”

Like Strata Plan, AESG has encouraged all Owners Corporations to proactively investigate the materials on their building.

“If you don’t know what’s on your building definitively, then we certainly encourage people to investigate and find out.”

If your Owners Corporation is managed by Strata Plan and you would like to know if your Owners Corporation has conducted any investigations into if ACP or EPS cladding has been used on your building, please email spcladding@strataplan.com.au for an update.

For more articles on cladding, click HERE.

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