Both NSW and Queensland have deadlines fast approaching relating to proper use of building materials, with penalties for non- compliance reaching up to $220,000 or two years of jail time for individuals and $1.1 million for corporations.
In Australia, fire safety is of the utmost importance, with many regions across the country having a notable bushfire risk, according to the Insurance Council of Australia.
In order to reduce the risk of bushfires, NSW and Queensland have in place flammable cladding related legislations that must be adhered to soon.
Strata corporation and some building owners have by 22 February to adhere to the State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment (Exempt Development – Cladding and Decorative Work) 2018 and register with the NSW government if their building contains combustible cladding materials.
Some of the materials include cladding which contains metal composite panels like aluminium, zinc or copper sandwich panels as well as polystyrene, polyurethane or polyisocyanurate.
The fines for avoiding to register a building start from $1,500 for an individual and $3,000 for a company, can be doubled if ignoring a direction to register from local council, Fire NSW or the Department of Planning, and can go up to $220,000 and/or two years of jail time for individuals and $1.1 million for corporations.
Additionally, if the issue is not rectified, there are additional fines of $44,000 for individuals and $110,000 for companies, per day.
Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers’ Ben said time is running out for building owners and those on strata corporations to properly register.
“Any person responsible for the management of any commercial or residential building should be seeking immediate inspections to determine if their building contains any declared product, if they do not know so already,” Mr Robertson said.
“The self-reporting of buildings with combustible cladding follows a ban issued in August 2018 of any cladding with a core comprising more than 30 per cent polyethylene. That statewide prohibition was retrospective and applied to certain multistorey residential and commercial premises where the banned material is used in external cladding, external walls, external insulation, facades or rendered finishes.
“Owners and strata corporations of affected buildings containing cladding with a core of more than 30 per cent per cent polyethylene can now be issued rectification orders under the Building Products (Safety) Act requiring them to undertake remediation and removal work.”
Mr Robertson added that it is important building owners seek out legal advice on how to comply with the measures.
This opportunity may also give property owners in NSW the chance to ensure properties have working fire alarms.
Queensland property owners, body corporates and property managers have a bit more time to meet the Safer Buildings for Queensland cladding reforms.
Owners of buildings with at least two units that have at least two storeys that were given development approval between 1 January 1994 and 1 October 2018 need to complete part one of the reform, which requires owners to register online at the Safer Buildings website by 29 March.
Those who are finding it difficult to meet the 29 March deadline can apply for an extension, with the extension cut-off being 1 March 2019, according to Archers the Strata Professionals partner Andrew Staehr.
Those who fail to register by the deadline can face a fine of $2,611 and will need to additionally supply a building industry professional report, according to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission commissioner Brett Bassett.