Owners ordered to replace cladding

Some 400 Lacrosse apartment owners have been ordered to replace the non-compliant cladding which covers their building.  

The City of Melbourne’s municipal building surveyor last month issued building orders to the owners, requiring them to replace the cladding, which will make the building compliant with the Building Code of Australia.

Owners have 350 days to replace the cladding and have 30 days to appeal the orders to the Building Appeals Board.

In November last year, a fire, started by a stray cigarette, quickly spread up the outside of the building, causing more than $5 million worth of damage.

An MFB report found that combustible materials used in the non-compliant external cladding contributed to the spread of the blaze.

“We have great sympathy for the owners of properties in the Lacrosse building. Although the building has been deemed safe for now, the external cladding needs to be brought into compliance with the Building Code of Australia,” City of Melbourne CEO Ben Rimmer said.

“We appreciate that owners will feel aggrieved that they have purchased properties that have been found to have a defect and that they may be seeking compensation, however that is a matter between them and other parties,” Mr Rimmer said.

Mr Rimmer said under the Victorian Building Act, it was not possible to make the building orders against any other parties.

“Owners and owners’ corporations are strongly encouraged to work together to respond to the orders. The changed required to the building exterior are the same for all owners and is likely to require a whole-of-building response,” Mr Rimmer said.

The building orders come after the council issued “show cause” notices to Lacrosse owners in June, asking them to set out how they intend to make their properties compliant with the Australian Building Code.

The City of Melbourne held an information session for owners on October 27, as Docklands News was going to print, to discuss the building orders.

Fraser Main, the director of Lacrosse facilities management company Trevor Main Group, said the company was focused on getting the best outcome for owners and residents “as fairly and quickly as possible”.

Mr Main told Docklands News earlier this year that it was both the owners’ and Trevor Main Group’s position that the owners would not be liable for expenses related to making the building compliant.

“The owners’ position is that the cost of that compliance would be paid for by the insurance policy, or by those who were responsible for the design and construction,” Mr Main said at the time.

The Victorian Building Authority is continuing its investigation into LU Simon Builders and the relevant building surveyor in relation to the use of non-compliant external cladding, which was found to have contributed to the spread of the fire.

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