The cladding controversy is most literally hitting home for apartment complex owners, and may very well be attributed to government mismanagement of the building industry.
The Australian landscape has been blighted by recent failures in the construction sector, some of which have ended up in court. And recently, it was ruled as a result of the Lacrosse Tower Fire that building subcontractors may be held accountable for their faulty labour—not just the principle builders.
Charges of unethical conduct are being lodged against the government and the Victorian Building Authority in regards to building industry management.
The cladding Taskforce believes that the courts have lessened their ability to hold hi-rise builders responsible for defects. Yet this is not true, as the builder remains responsible for the first 10 years after the date of the Occupancy Certificate. The task force ultimately believes that owners should fix any non-compliant issues in relation to their properties. Yet in each of these situations, owners purchased the buildings with full faith in the government and their prescribed standards for the building industry—in regards to planning, consumer protection, surveying and sales, titles, etc.
At the beginning of May, we learned that nine residential towers in Darwin are afflicted with structural stress, this owing to their inclusion of non-compliant transfer slabs. All were signed off by the same structural engineer, according to the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistic. Unit owners were contacted and encouraged to contract an independent structural engineer to remedy and repair any structural problems in their buildings.
Beyond this, these owners must be called upon to come together and question the enforcement of building standards. The cladding problem in particular must be remedied as soon as possible, but other issues exist regarding overall building practices and an excess of self-regulation. For our buildings, for our residents, for our country, compliance to building standards must be promised—and guaranteed.
A Royal Commission must be formed and called upon to put these iron-‘clad’ changes in motion. Now.