After the tragic fire that engulfed the ‘Grenfell Tower’ in London back in June 2017 (and killed 72 people), the spotlight has now been cast upon on composite products that are considered flammable and have been used in the construction of any dwelling that’s higher than a single storey.
There’s plenty of solid evidence to suggest that the warnings have been there for some time that a disaster such as the one that engulfed the ‘Grenfell Tower’, was possible and even back in 2012, the potential risks were highlighted in that very building.
It was announced only hours ago that the investigations are still on-going due to the complexity of this case but it is expected that criminal charges will be laid at some point.
Here’s a really interesting article detailing many of the events of the ‘Grenfell Tower’ tragedy and where things are up to in this case…
So back here in Australia, should we be concerned that this sort of tragedy could unfold in our own backyard?
The reality is that there are many buildings (mainly residential towers) that have been finished with various types of cladded material and most experts agree that there are plenty of cases where residents and unit owners should be concerned.
I’ve heard one expert on the radio openly declare that there are “Almost one thousand buildings around Australia” that would likely suffer a similar fate to the tragedy that happened in London should things go wrong.
I don’t know whether this is true but given that State Governments around Australia are rushing through new legislation in order to address any potential issues moving forwards, you’d have to think that the problem must be reasonably common.
As far as Queensland is concerned, the State Government has passed new legislation whereby a ‘three-staged process’ is mandatory in order to identify, assess and rectify and potential issues.
Feel free to see today’s ‘Insights’ article for a link to a concise summary of the new Queensland legislation as described by Lawyers ‘McCullough Robertson’.
The first step in this process is for owners/Body Corporate companies to register their buildings on the ‘Safer Buildings’ website and complete the online ‘Combustible Cladding Checklist’ survey by March 29, 2019.
Completion of this process will determine if further action is required.
I’m sure that in the coming months, the number of buildings requiring rectification will become public knowledge.
The next interesting step in this process will be surrounding the buildings that do require significant rectification…and more importantly, who is to pay for this rectification?
I’m very sure that you’ll see many parties pointing the finger in other directions and it’s likely that we’ll see lawsuits filed by many different parties.
Does the responsibility come back to the builders and/or the architects or should the cost be born by the unit owners or more appropriately, should the works be paid out of the Sinking Fund?
You can bet that insurance companies won’t be footing the bill for non-compliant construction materials.
If the responsibility does fall upon the unit owners, what happens when the Sinking Fund does not have enough money to cover this cost (I’m sure that this will be the case of many high-rise residential towers where work needs to be completed).
As I shared with you several weeks ago, a ‘Special Levy’ may be applied to top-up the cost of this work being performed…and what happens if some unit owners simply can’t afford to bear this cost, especially when the State Government will force the hand of the unit owners to comply and provide some very firm deadlines?
Will this force some unit prices to drop considerably if there are issues in funding this work? You bet!
Will other unit complexes benefit if they are found to be compliant and did not use cladding materials that are combustible? Most likely.
It will certainly be interesting to observe what happens over the next couple of years and you can be rest assured that this topic will be constantly prominent in the media, even more so than it is now.
Until next week…Happy Listing and Happy Selling!