Cladding: are you on the funding list?
By Barbara Francis & Rus Littleson
Does your building qualify for support from the state government’s cladding rectification fund?
It’s a common question and we were delighted to be approached recently by Cladding Safety Victoria (CSV) with an offer to explain the process in detail.
CSV was established last year to work with individual owners, identified by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) as having extreme- or high-risk cladding, on the appropriate solution for their building.
CSV has been tasked with providing advice on how to reduce fire risk, helping owners to find qualified project managers and other professionals. In higher risk situations, CSV is responsible for funding approved works.
Despite the ravages of COVID-19, We Live Here was able to meet virtually with CSV to delve into the details.
Now we have a great deal of information to share with you ...
Meet your new Municipal Building Surveyor!
The Minister for Planning Richard Wynne has appointed the VBA as the Municipal Building Surveyor (MBS) for more than 400 buildings assessed as having the highest risk from cladding.
In these cases, the VBA has assumed the functions of the MBS from the relevant local government. This means that affected buildings in inner Melbourne will be dealing with the VBA rather than the City of Melbourne.
Through the state-wide cladding audit, the VBA has been working with owners’ corporations (OCs) to identify buildings with com- bustible cladding to assess the relative risks for these buildings.
About 2200 buildings have been inspected and assessed through the VBA audit.
We have learnt that the state-wide cladding audit has resumed building inspections during COVID-19 restrictions, with protective equip- ment and social distancing measures.
If your building is to be inspected as part of the audit, you should receive a letter from the VBA. Building managers and OCs should also be contacted by the VBA prior to any inspection (We Live Here does know that notices have not always been received – if you have experienced this, please let us know). The inspection usually involves cutting out a piece of each different type cladding, each about the size of a CD. The holes will be plugged and sealed by the inspectors.
VBA sends the samples off for chemical and fire resistance testing. The inspection entails much more than samples. The extent, location and fire risk of all instances of cladding will be examined in detail. The inspectors will require access to as-built drawings and other documentation.
Four stages to determine eligibility for funding
There are four stages to determine eligibility. Your building must satisfy ALL criteria:
1. Deemed higher risk by the state-wide cladding audit;
2. Subject to a Building Notice or Order related to combustible external wall cladding;
3. Referred to CSV by either the VBA or the City of Melbourne; and
4. Prioritised for rectification by CSV.
To date, 487 buildings have been referred to the CSV. These buildings are now being “prioritised”. CSV says that it is reviewing 60 buildings a month.
Just before going to press we asked CSV how many buildings have already been approved for funding. We will update you in the next column.
Don’t call us, we’ll call you
If CSV determines that your building is eligi- ble, they will contact your OC to invite participation in the funding program. That would be a day to celebrate!
The buildings that qualify will receive a great deal of assistance from CSV – much more than just the funds.
Understandably CSV wants to make sure that its money is being well spent, and it takes high-level oversight of the appointment of the quantity surveyor and project manager and builders – all from the state government accredited vendor panels.
Knowing that your project team has been accredited by the state government will be a great comfort for OCs.
One big question we put to CSV is what happens if the rectification is urgent and the build- ing has to proceed with rectification without the government funding – could eligible build- ings be reimbursed for costs already incurred? Good news - according to CSV, if the works are exclusively for cladding and due process has been followed, such costs could well be eligible for funding.
If you have any questions about the cladding rectification program or you have an experience you wish to share, please let us know. We will stay in close contact with CSV so that we can keep you up to date with developments.
Short-term operators crunched
If any other readers have more stories about long-term rentals replacing short-term letting please let us know.
COVID-19 and apartment living
Is your building changing any processes as Melbourne prepares for a post-COVID-19 reopening?
We would welcome feedback on how the COVID-19 pandemic is being managed in your building and whether any specific issues have arisen.
Thank you to all those who have contributed your stories to date, please keep your emails and cards coming in!
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