The Australian Capital Territory has now kicked off a new scheme aimed at improving the safety standard of residential apartment buildings.
Under the Private Buildings Cladding Scheme, eligible building owners will be financially assisted to test whether their building contains combustible cladding.
This is being encouraged through a 50 per cent rebate on the cost to undertake testing and assessment on each building, with a maximum rebate of $20,000 (excluding GST).
“The ACT government takes the safety of Canberra residents seriously and we are committed to reducing the risk of potentially combustible cladding on residential apartment buildings in the ACT,” according to Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction Rebecca Vassarotti.
An eligible building is defined as:
- an apartment building with a rise of three storeys or more, or a cluster of residential buildings close to each other that represents a high fire risk;
- a building or buildings that contain residential apartments or have a mix of uses such as residential apartments with ground-floor shops or offices;
- a building judged to contain combustible cladding based on reasonable grounds by the owners corporation.
The testing shall determine the level of risk, if any, that cladding represents, and what actions the building owners can or should take to reduce the risk.
Should the building be determined as requiring cladding remediation work, building owners may then be offered concessional loans under the scheme.
“We recognise the challenges faced by apartment building owners to address combustible cladding without assistance, which is why the scheme will provide financial support during phase one of testing and assessment and concessional loans for phase two of rectification,” the minister said.
Details of the concessional loans to be offered in phase two of the scheme will be available once outcomes from phase one are known.
To ensure a smooth rollout of the scheme, Ms Vassarotti said the government will also provide assistance in sourcing skilled providers by hosting “an open, publicly available list detailing suppliers who have qualifications, experience, licences and insurances relevant to undertaking cladding work in the ACT”.
“The ACT has been able to assess the approaches of other jurisdictions and design a scheme specifically for our region to ensure cladding works are carried out on the highest-risk, privately owned residential buildings,” she said.
“We are committed to ensuring that the testing and assessment of cladding is done professionally and that owners get as much assistance as they need to guide them through that process.”
The announcement of the Private Buildings Cladding Scheme is the latest effort to ensure the safety of buildings across Australia.
Prior to this, the New South Wales (NSW) government unveiled the Building Assurance Solution (BAS), a new tool that will utilise multiple data points to help Fair Trading and the insurance industry to assess a residential apartment building’s quality and compliance with construction standards.
This comes after a series of prohibition orders from NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler on Sydney apartment buildings due to serious defects, including the Imperial Towers in Parramatta and the Skyview apartment complex in Castle Hill.