Just live with it? Owners Corporation responds to combustible cladding find

Lottie Twyford 29 October 2021 19

The ACT Government is providing financial support to rectify the presence of combustible cladding. Photo: ACT Government.

Residents of one Canberra apartment building are concerned that after combustible cladding was found on their building, the onus is being placed on them to ensure their own safety.

The Owners Corporation of Stromlo Terrace Apartments wrote to residents to advise that the rules of the building needed to be modified “in line with recommendations made in a flammable cladding assessment report of the building”.

In the letter, it’s alleged the risk of the cladding has been assessed as “moderate”.

But residents are now asked to refrain from using a barbecue, an outdoor heater, smoking and storing an ashtray or using any other heat source on their balcony. New emergency evacuation plans will also be implemented.

However, Vantage Strata managing director Chris Miller said implementing measures such as these could be necessary and appropriate in the instance of the discovery of such cladding while the process of replacing it was undertaken.

Mr Miller explained that discovering combustible cladding would be a challenge to every Owners Corporation because the process of replacing it is long, complex and costly.

He said Executive Committees faced with this challenge would have “a duty to prioritise matters between what can reasonably be done immediately to protect life and property, and what could be achieved eventually given sufficient time”.

“Replacing cladding is a long-term proposition that will require planning, funding, government approvals and resolutions made by a majority of owners,” he said.

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Mr Miller explained that because most of these elements have their processes set out in legislation, it can take months and years to complete.

“In the meantime, it is appropriate, and likely necessary, that the committee takes measures that are available to it, such as requiring residents to modify their behaviour despite any possible inconvenience.”

Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction Rebecca Vassarotti has repeatedly said that the responsibility for cladding lies with the building owner.

She said she was “glad that private apartment building owners are taking action on their buildings and are ensuring that rectification work can begin”.

The ACT Government is currently running a Private Buildings Cladding Scheme to help building owners test whether their building has combustible cladding.

“We are calling for private owner corporations and apartment building owners to address combustible cladding,” Ms Vassarotti said.

“We need to hear from Owners Corporations and Strata Managers of apartment buildings with cladding so that we can help them identify the fire risk that cladding on their building may pose and help them ensure the safety of residents.”

READ ALSO: So you’ve joined a strata committee, now what?

The scheme, which began in July, is currently in phase one with a government rebate of up to $20,000 available. The second phase will likely provide building owners with concessional loans if further remediation works are required.

In Budget hearings last week, officials said the details of the second phase cannot yet be released as they are dependent on the information gathered in the first phase, such as the scope of the remedial works.

Potentially combustible cladding materials consisting of either aluminium composite panels or expanded polystyrene came to global attention when the Grenfell tower fire killed 72 people in 2017 in London.

It has previously been revealed that some building owners in Canberra were being forced to replace the building’s cladding to retain or gain insurance.

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19 Responses to Just live with it? Owners Corporation responds to combustible cladding find
RedFemme2 RedFemme2 6:32 pm 04 Dec 21

I was recently inquiring about an apartment for purchase in a combustible cladding affected building in the ACT. When I asked the agent about the remediation plan (or lack thereof) by the OC, of said cladding, she informed me that “It is totally normal to spend an extra $100 000 on an apartment”, and that it is “Not an issue”. She was hesitant in forthcoming deeper investigation information of the BC minutes in this building.
Im educated about the cladding issue and it’s impacts, estate agents are blatantly covering up the truth. Get informed and BUYER BEWARE.

Diane Asenoguan Diane Asenoguan 6:29 am 28 Oct 21

What ever happened to introduce self regulation into the building code needs to be rescinded. Obviously those involved in building these large complexes are doing it on the cheap. Doesn't ACT Fire Brigade get involved in approving cladding that is safe?

Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 10:32 am 27 Oct 21

My advice to OC’s is to read this and similar articles on the Lacrosse Apartments in Melbourne. Yes, give advice to your Owners on all the precautions that are necessary but the cost of damage repair AFTER an incident is up for discussion.

Undertake your own research before taking advice from others who may not be over the subject. I’ve undertaken the necessary research on our apartments .. when faced with this evidence and other matters many in the industry can’t give look you in the face and give you an answer .. and that includes Insurance brokers towing the insurance rhetoric. PM if you want further information on my findings .. the industry needs a clean up.


Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 10:31 am 27 Oct 21

The fact that the cladding has been classified as a moderate risk makes me think it is is not the type that was the subject of the Grenfell Tower disaster or the Lacrosse Apartments in a Melbourne. This product does not meet the requirements of Australian Standards and Building Codes.

Therefore it is most probable that it is similar to a product refered to as Alucobond Plus.

If that is the case the product meets the requirements of Australia Standards and Building Codes and should not be a great concern for OC’s.

G'Lyz Wogly G'Lyz Wogly 7:28 am 27 Oct 21

Nazia Nur geeez recognise this

Acton Acton 7:14 am 27 Oct 21

Removal of flammable cladding is necessary or buildings won’t be able to renew their insurance cover. Until the long process of removal and rectification is complete, BBQs are banned, which is tough on residents. Not an expert but understand the aluminium exterior decorative cladding panels are filled with highly flammable polystyrene. Made in China, banned in Europe after Grenfell, sold in Australia until building codes changed. I see similarities to the Mr Fluffy debacle.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:04 am 27 Oct 21

    The next high impact bushfire that will rip through Canberra will be in about 20 years so there should be plenty of time to replace the cladding. The question is, what will they replace it with?

Emma Thomson Emma Thomson 11:16 pm 26 Oct 21

Patricia Thomson Sarah Thomson Harley de Vos the apartments near mine at Stromlo Terrace 🙃

Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 11:06 pm 26 Oct 21

If the product has been classified as a “moderate risk” I suspect it is NOT the type of cladding that was the subject of the Grenfel Towers disaster and the Lacrosse Apartments in Melbourne.

It is most probably a product referred to as Alucobond Plus which passes the tests and requirements of Australian Building Codes and international Standards.

In saying that try convincing your insurer of this .. ACP’s can make your building “uinsurable” depending on the type of ACP, the extent and the location.

    John Tozer John Tozer 8:59 am 27 Oct 21

    Robert Azzopardi - There are more “experts” around on this stuff than there are apartments. Now insurance companies are “experts”. Do we also know that insurers have demanded that “cold slab” insulation has to be removed from Canberra buildings even though that means they no longer meet environmental requirements of the BCA?

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 9:41 am 27 Oct 21

    John Tozer I was only talking about that the other day .. I had a meeting with our broker concerning insurers declining to insure our building because of the presence of ACP’s … Alucobond Plus which take up less than 5% of our total facade as decorative features fixed to the outside face of mainly PC facade and DG windows. Heck I said we’ve got plenty of “combustible” materials like cold slab insulation .. heck our apartment entry doors are rated for 1hr … what the heck are you insurers declining to quote?? … have they been given all the information I gave you to submit ?? … I smell a rat John … and you know how I deal with things when that happens.

    Way too many “experts” out there that wouldn’t know if their proverbial was bored, punched, screwed or drilled.

Birchy Birchy Birchy Birchy 10:07 pm 26 Oct 21

Carol Narelle wow. Your new place?

Sara Montagnese Sara Montagnese 9:51 pm 26 Oct 21

They failed to mention this is not the first complex in Canberra where cladding found to be combustible or how much the owners have to pay to have it redone. Where is the builders or developers responsibility in these builds or moving forward with new builds

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 11:00 pm 26 Oct 21

    Sara Montagnese I agree .. if the product is not compliant with the requirements of Building Codes and Australian Standards how the heck are the designers, builders and certified not held responsible.

    The legal case with the Lacrosse Apartments in Melbourne was settled with those people being held responsible for rectifying all damage caused by the cladding catching fire when a resident left a cigarette on his balcony which eventually led to the fire.

Samantha Bird Samantha Bird 7:50 pm 26 Oct 21

Connor Hamish we love to see it

Loretta Hately Loretta Hately 6:35 pm 26 Oct 21

Dianne Turco they should’ve used www.smartfix.com.au instead they take short cuts.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:34 pm 26 Oct 21

I wonder how high rise unit blocks with combustible cladding in Canberra are going to handle bushfires like the 2003 one, especially if fire tornadoes impact on them?

We have seen the destruction caused to one London high rise block with combustible cladding in calm and cool conditions in London so imagine what will happen in Canberra when the temperature is over 40 and the north westerly winds are blowing at gale force.

Shane Phoenix Shane Phoenix 6:14 pm 26 Oct 21

Yet a car manufacturer can't sell a car that a fire hazard. They must recall it and fix the potential hazard.

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