Important changes to Queensland's Building Regulation 2006 dealing with combustible cladding came into effect on 1 October 2018. These changes will have potentially significant consequences for some private building owners.
The new rules impose a number of obligations on owners of specified buildings to identify whether combustible cladding exists. The specified buildings are building classes 2 to 9 of A or B type construction, which includes (among others):
- office buildings
- shops or other buildings for the sale of goods, including cafés, restaurants, kiosks and service stations
- car parks
- buildings for the storage or display of goods for sale by wholesale
- buildings used for the production, assembling, repairing etc. of goods or produce
- health care buildings
- assembly buildings, trade workshops, laboratories or the like in primary or secondary schools
- aged care buildings
that were built or have had the cladding altered after 1 January 1994 but before 1 October 2018 and are more than three storeys (two storeys for an aged care building). A complete guide to building classes can be found here.
These obligations apply regardless of whether a building development approval was given for the building and associated cladding work or if there is a current certificate for cladding.1
To identify whether combustible cladding exits, the Building Regulation 2006 requires building owners to complete a three step process.
Firstly, by 29 March 2019, relevant building owners must register and complete the combustible cladding checklist (part 1). Registration can be completed here. Failure to register by this date is an offence under the Building Regulation 2006 and may result in disciplinary action from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, including the imposition of fines.
Secondly, by 29 May 2019, building owners must engage a building industry professional to prepare a building industry professional statement. Building owners can find a building industry professional by searching this register. Once an owner has obtained the statement, they must answer the questions on the combustible cladding checklist (part 2). The answers to these questions will determine whether the owner is required to engage a fire engineer.
Note that building owners that suspect their building has combustible cladding may skip part 2 and engage a fire engineer to complete the combustible cladding checklist (part 3).
Thirdly, if the answers to the questions in part 2 indicate that the owner is required to complete part 3 (or if they have skipped part 2), building owners must engage a fire engineer to prepare a building fire safety risk assessment stating whether the building has combustible cladding and a fire engineer statement. Registered fire engineers can be found by searching this register. This must be completed by 27 August 2019.
Owners must finally complete the combustible cladding checklist (part 3) by 3 May 2021.
Once stage 3 is done, owners must within 60 business days of receiving the cladding report, display a notice on the building in the approved form and give copies to the tenants.
The Queensland Government has released a Guideline for assessing buildings with combustible cladding which can be found here.
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission has started contacting owners of buildings who may be required to register. Owners of buildings who have not been contacted are still obligated to register if they think they fall within the specified categories of buildings.
The real issue is that if a building is found to have combustible cladding, the Regulations do not specify what needs to happen. That is left to market pressures.
We suggest that anyone who may be caught by these Regulations completes a building portfolio audit as soon as possible to determine if they need to comply and if so, how.
1Building Regulation 2006, s 16N.
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