$600mill Package to Fix Flammable Building Cladding

The Victorian Government announced  $600mill package today to assist building owners, further privatising profit, and socialising loss.

Recent building fires such as that in London’s Grenfell Tower, highlighted a long-known fact that insulated zinc or aluminium panels were being used as cheap, energy-saving insulation. Grenfell Tower, a public housing block in London, was upgraded with such cladding.

Only external parts of the building were upgraded in an attempt to make the block more visually appealing in the expensive suburb.

Internally, the building remained rundown and disorganized.

When a fire broke out, evacuations were made difficult by locked doors, and failed warning procedures. Incidents such as these have occurred in Australia, with hundreds of newer constructions having similar exterior finishes.

Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews has asked the Federal government to assist by providing half of the cost.

Consumer groups argue that the funds will not be sufficient to cover remediation.

It raises further questions about the responsibility for building defects, with recent cracking in Sydney unit blocks. The damage was serious enough for total evacuation of several high-rise blocks. While none of the residents have been injured, many fear returning to their homes.

Hundreds of buildings, both residential and commercial, have been identified as being at risk.

Residents are urged to raise any concerns with building managers. As for the cladding, it may look like a smooth metallic surface. It may be found on exterior surfaces, as well as public areas such as lift foyers and public hallways.

The Andrews government says it will try to recover some of the costs from the businesses involved, but the real costs could be in the billions. Insurance will not cover such “defects”, leaving lot owners to foot the bill.

Some building companies are set up to build a single project, making legal action difficult, if not impossible.

A taskforce set up to investigate “at risk” buildings found 72 were extreme risk, 409 at high risk, and another 388 to be at moderate risk. The government is planning to rectify 500 buildings meaning some could be left to the owners to fix at their own cost.

It highlights failed government oversight of an industry that has been largely left to self-regulate. Many states have privatised inspection, leaving many to ask, “Why?”

The real question surely is how we will act in future. Buildings currently under construction may have similar faults in both cladding, materials, and building methods. Rampant over-development development has seen rapid change in inner city areas of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

These areas are favoured by the gay community.

Will this affect property prices?