Flammable cladding in Melbourne leads to class action over ticking time bomb

Contributed from Victoria

Law firm Adley Burstyner (akin to Norton & Associates) has teamed up with building inspection company Roscon, to prepare a class action case against construction companies, for installing combustible cladding on Melbourne buildings.

The use of this sort of cladding caused the London Grenfell disaster last year and which took the lives of 71 people. Combustible cladding also caused the 2014 fire at the Lacrosse building in Melbourne’s Docklands. Another fire damaged a building in Brunswick.

Video by Sky News

Interview with firefighter about the Grenfell fire

Use f similar cladding in many other buildings has created a time bomb in the city. And nothing is being done about it and vulnerable owners have been asked to join the case, to be heard at the Victorian Supreme Court.

Video by Anish Kumar Giri
The Lacrosse Docklands fire

Despite an audit carried out by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) and local councils, finding 400 properties “likely” had the material. Builders have done nothing to remedy the situation. The legal action aims to have this cladding replaced by non-flammable materials.

On a technicality, the Supreme Court ruled last December that the VBA cannot force construction companies to rectify works after an occupation permit has been issued, even though there is a 10-year guarantee against defects. The construction companies successfully argued that the cladding is not a defect and is therefore not covered by the guarantee.

Unless the cladding is removed, it is only a matter of time before there is loss of life.

Because of the Supreme Court ruling, owners have been left to bear the costs of rectification. And the building audit has already led to several building orders.

“We see this as the only way forward,” Roscon general manager Sahil Bhasin said.

“We’ve tried with builders, numerous times in a civilised way, to try and get some rectification works on non-compliant cladding, which hasn’t worked thus far.”

“These building orders are landing on our desks every day to try and assist owners corporations,” Mr Bhasin said.

“It involves spending tens of thousands of dollars to start off with on reports, and after reports have been obtained, they need to spend money on removal and rectification, which is not what we think owners should pay for.”


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