THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED
The Cladding Challenge
With an aggregate rectification bill of billions of dollars, the fallout from flammable cladding is unfolding through the building industry, property market, and legal systems. As well as immediate practical challenges of making buildings safe and compliant, flammable cladding raises broader questions around risk in our buildings and cities, and the frameworks that govern them. How do we, and how should we, assign responsibility for cladding issues and for fixing them? How do governments balance tensions between accountability, certainty, and the immediate need to make buildings safe? How did we get here and what are the options moving forward?
In light of such questions, RMIT Centre for Urban Research and the School of Design present “Fired Up”: a public event comprising an expert panel to discuss the causes and consequences of flammable cladding.
The expert panel for “Fired Up” draws together a range of perspectives to help illuminate how the flammable cladding problem came about, what the range of consequences are, and what could or should be done to fix it.
Speakers will discuss academic, government, consumer and industry-based insights into different aspects of the combustible cladding challenge. The discussion will cover questions around the building industry, litigation, regulation, owners corporations, fire engineering, consumer rights, and planning processes.The event
will comprise short speaker presentations followed by facilitated discussion, and audience Q&A.Discussion will include:
- Causes: factors contributing to flammable cladding issues, and the systems involved
- Consequences: the nature of the problems, who is impacted and how
- What solutions there are and what the consequences of different solutions might be for safety, fairness, accountability
- What we might learn from other risk-based issues in the built environment: asbestos, ‘leaky building’ (New Zealand), and combustible cladding responses in other jurisdictions.
- John Thwaites (Victorian Government Cladding Taskforce Co-Chair; former Deputy Premier of Victoria, Chair of the National Sustainability Council; director of Australian Green Building Council; Professorial Fellow Monash University).
- Sahil Bhasin (National General Manager, Roscon Group of Companies )
- Anne Paten (building consumer advocate – president, Victorian Building Action Group)
- Samantha Ratnam (Leader of the Victorian Greens, Member of Parliament for the Northern Metropolitan Region)
- Chair: Professor Ralph Horne, (Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation – College of Design and Social Context, RMITUniversity)
- Host: Dr Elizabeth Taylor, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT
RSVP today as spaces are limited, and this is likely to be a popular event!
The Cladding Issue Background
In the wake of London’s catastrophic Grenfell Towers fire, and of local incidents including the rapid spread of a balcony fire at Melbourne Dockland’s LaCrosse Tower, governments are increasingly acting to limit the use of Aluminium Composite Panels (ACP) with polyethylene (PE) cores. Also referred to as flammable or combustible cladding, the use of this material in high-rise buildings in Victoria is now presumed to be non-compliant with building codes. In its November 2017 interim report the Victorian Cladding Taskforce found the widespread use of combustible cladding to have been enabled by a poor culture of industry compliance; issues with supply and marketing of building materials; and multiple regulatory systems failures.Even with a commitment to increased compliance and to limiting the further use of ACP, Australia still faces the complex legacy of thousands of buildings swathed in what likely amounts to hundreds of thousands of square metres of combustible cladding. The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) is leading a cladding audit of residential buildings over three storeys; and of public use buildings over 2 storeys. The challenge of rectifying the roughly 1,400 non-compliant buildings already identified by the VBA – a figure which may increase to 5,000 or as many as 20,000 buildings in Victoria – raises questions not only around cladding but around the nature of risk and liability in the built environment.In Victoria’s case, decades of cumulative regulatory changes including to building warranty insurance, building surveying, and building authority jurisdictions, have combined with a prolonged boom in high-rise construction. The consequence is that while many groups may or may not be to blame for flammable cladding issues, in practical and financial terms the costs of compliance and rectification of cladding are falling on apartment owners who find they have been sold non-conforming apartments. Courts have ruled the VBA cannot order directions to builders to fix non-compliant blocks after owners move in. This, combined with cladding audits and with 2002 legislation exempting builders from home warranty insurance for apartment blocks over three storeys, means as many as 250,000 apartment owners in Victorian high-rise buildings have few consumer protections. And with major builders going into administration; there are sometimes no legal recourses for pursuing claims through the courts. Owners Corporations are grappling with complex rectification works and legal uncertainties with estimates as high as $40,00 to $60,000 per apartment; and millions of dollars per building.
Hosted by: Dr Elizabeth Taylor, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT