REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin said the Institute “welcomes a reform of the environmental planning and assessment legislation to address the safety risks posed by the use of combustible cladding on buildings.
“At the same time, the reform should allow for a pragmatic and more lenient transition that results in a clear, fair and simple to use system. We look forward to exploring the issues further with the NSW Government.”
REINSW’s Submission focused on issues addressed with the Department of Planning and Environment (Department) and which arises out of the consultation draft. Read the Submission in full here.
Here is a brief overview
Which buildings should register / submit a cladding statement?
REINSW proposes that only owners of existing buildings (from the date the regulation comes into effect) should be required to register buildings, and only when directed to do so by local councils or authorised fire officers. New buildings should be exempt as they would not be able to obtain an occupation certificate if they do not comply with relevant fire safety legislation.
It is further recommended that the deadlines for registration and providing cladding statements be extended to reflect practical timeframes to achieve requirements under the regulation.
“Properly qualified persons” to assess buildings
REINSW recommends that “properly qualified person” is clearly defined under the Draft Regulation.
Accessibility of register and conveyancing practice
Given the seriousness of risks, there should be a direct relationship between the register and general conveyancing practice, such as by way of a prescribed document, similar to a requirement for owners to provide certification on their swimming pools. The register should also be accessible by the public, with mechanisms for removal of a building if it is later established that it is not at risk.
What information will assist owners and strata managers to understand/ meet the requirements?
- The Department (or an appropriate agency) staff are trained to provide guidance and deal with queries in relation to combustible cladding and general owner obligations
- Comprehensive factsheets and detailed FAQs to be made available for owners, owners corporations, strata or building managers and other affected persons
- Free seminars and workshops in each local government area addressing issues and obligations under the new regulation regarding the use of combustible cladding and fire safety.
What could help prevent combustible cladding being used inappropriately on new buildings?
REINSW proposes that local councils should not issue certificates or approvals unless they are satisfied the buildings comply with the relevant building codes and applicable legislation.
To assist local councils, the NSW Government should provide builders, developers and other professionals in the building design and construction industry with guidance and education on this issue.
Consumers, such as tenants, currently have no recourse under the Draft Regulation. Consideration should be given as to how consumer rights would be protected if combustible cladding is found on a building.
Whilst the Draft Regulation focuses on identifying buildings with combustible cladding, the Department should provide clarity and guidance for owners and strata or building managers as to the remedial process if combustible cladding is identified.
NSW Fair Trading has published guidelines for agents' responsibilities relating to fire safety and external wall cladding. They recommend that strata managing agents, building, property and maintenance managers and real estate agents should ‘review all design and construction documents to determine whether external wall cladding made of aluminium composite materials was used on the building.’
However, given that strata managers and agents don’t have the technical expertise to carry out this work, these guidelines should be amended, as any such documentation would need to be referred to experts.