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Funding lack puts apartments at risk

Safety should come first in apartment buildings but a lack of funding could see owners avoiding crucial building inspections, a body corporate watchdog group is warning.

Thursday, June 29th 2017, 10:30AM

by Miriam Bell

The devastating Grenfell Tower fire in London has left local governments worldwide scrambling to find out if apartment buildings in their realm have aluminium cladding with a combustible plastic core.

In New Zealand, the search for such cladding is now on – and, so far, two buildings in Auckland have been discovered to have flammable cladding on their exterior.

Given widespread use of such products in Australia, it is likely that many more New Zealand buildings will be found to have flammable cladding.

Strata Community Association (NZ) president Joanne Barreto said this is a worry because, currently, owners are solely responsible for rectifying defective buildings, although liable parties could be forced to contribute.

“Safety must come first in the minds of owners, but the fact of the matter is that huge financial factors have seen it become a secondary priority.”

This has left SCANZ with concerns that a lack of funding could see owners avoid crucial building inspections – despite fears about the possible use of flammable cladding.

Barreto said that as owners play no role in the construction of the building they buy into, it is grossly unfair that they have to foot the bill for defects when discovered.

“The spread of non-conforming building products is something which was caused, at least in part, by regulatory failure at multiple levels, and to our mind that’s where financial support should be coming from in the future.

“For the sake of owners nationwide, we are imploring the New Zealand government to arrange for urgent discussions on this matter.”

She added that, in order to effectively address the problem, better regulation of the construction sector and supply chain should also be clear priorities.

But Apartment Specialists director Andrew Murray said there has been no official mention of body corps having to proactively organise building checks themselves.

Rather it’s a matter of waiting for councils to do it, he said.

“If a building does turn out to have flammable cladding, it would be very expensive for that building to be reclad.

“It would be interesting to know whether if it came down to it, the council in question would have to pay for the recladding themselves.”

Murray said he understood that, to date, 21 buildings in Auckland have been checked for flammable cladding.

“It is interesting that two have been found to have the cladding and both of those buildings are currently being reclad.”

When it comes to apartment building fire safety there are many different safety considerations besides the cladding, he added.

Read more:

Shake-up for apartment laws 

Getting to grips with body corporates 

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Westpac 4.59 4.15 4.09 4.49
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