Queensland's combustible cladding reforms continue with the introduction of a new Regulation imposing audit onus on private owners

22 August 2018

In June 2017, in response to the Lacrosse building fire in Melbourne and similar incidents abroad, the Queensland Government established the Non-Conforming Building Products Audit Taskforce to minimise and manage the risk of combustible cladding used in the construction of high-risk buildings.

The Taskforce audited all publicly-owed buildings and is currently assessing the 71 buildings on which combustible cladding was found to have been used. The Taskforce also identified the need to audit approximately 12,000 privately-owned buildings, and suggested that the private owners are best placed to complete the first phase of the audit.

To this end, the Queensland Government recently passed the Building and Other Legislation (Cladding) Amendment Regulation 2018 (Qld), which imposes a series of obligations on owners of buildings that:

  • Are class 2 to 9 buildings;
  • Are of Type A or Type B construction; and
  • Were given development approval to build, or to alter the cladding, after 1 January 1994 but before 1 October 2018.

Phase 1: Following commencement of the Regulation on 1 October 2018, owners of buildings that fit this description are required to complete an online checklist (not yet released) by 29 March 2019.

Phase 2: If the checklist indicates that the building cladding warrants further investigation, the owner will be required to complete a further checklist and submit a statement prepared by a building industry professional to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission by 29 May 2019.

Phase 3: The Commission will review the information disclosed and may require that the owner engage a fire engineer to test the cladding to determine its composition, and assess and report on whether rectification or additional fire safety measures are necessary. The Commission will then determine the corrective action to be taken.

If the Commission determines that the cladding is non-conforming, the owner will be required to provide a copy of the determination to any lot owners and tenants and display a notice on the building. If the building is scheme land for a community titles scheme, it may be necessary to disclose non-conforming cladding in sale contracts, pursuant to section 223 of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (Qld).

If the building changes ownership during any phase of the audit, the outgoing owner must inform the new owner as to the status of the audit, together with copies of all relevant documents.

It is important that owners familiarise themselves with the obligations imposed by the Regulation, noting the short timeframes in the initial stages of the audit (in particular, between registration and submission of a building industry professional statement) and the monetary penalties for non-compliance.

More broadly, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and developers should take steps to prepare for queries from owners and body corporates looking to respond to the requirements of the Regulation, and to otherwise increase scrutiny of the use of non-conforming building products in existing and new buildings.

If you require any further information in relation to the Regulation or the risks of non-conforming building products, please contact HWL Ebsworth Lawyers.

This article was written by Colin Harris, Partner, Jessica Hourn, Associate and Thomas Canniffe, Law Graduate.

Colin Harris

P: +61 7 3169 4822

E: charris@hwle.com.au

Ross Williams

P: +61 7 3169 4796

E: rwilliams@hwle.com.au

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