Apartment owners strike back over flammable cladding

The New South Wales Civil & Administrative Tribunal ruled in 2019 that the cladding on four apartment towers in Ryde should be replaced. The tribunal concluded that the timber-PVC Biowood cladding used in the construction of the four buildings was combustible, represented an undue risk of fire spreading and needed to be replaced.

Apartment owners have welcomed a decision by the Appeals Panel to reject an appeal against the tribunal’s original ruling by builder Taylor Constructions and developer Frasers Putney:

In an Australian first, a major building company which installed timber-PVC Biowood cladding on four multi-storey apartment blocks in Ryde has lost its appeal against being forced to rectify the work.

Further, if it doesn’t reach an agreement with the owners on a timetable for the remediation, a date will be set for them by the state authorities.

“This is a precedent for Australia,” said the victorious owners’ lawyer, Faiyaaz Shafiq of JS Mueller & Co Lawyers. “This is the first reported case where a court or tribunal has upheld a finding that a particular type of cladding is combustible.

“The outcome of the case represents a win for owners’ corporations and sends another timely warning to builders and developers that use of combustible cladding is fraught with risk and carries with it substantial consequences.”

According to Faiyaaz Shafiq of JS Mueller & Co Lawyers, there are “thousands and thousands more buildings all across Australia” clad with Biowood.

Thus, this ruling sets an important precedent and is a small victory for Australia’s growing army of apartment dwellers who, through no fault of their own, have been left with financially crippling repair bills, alongside apartments whose values have been decimated.

Leith van Onselen
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  1. Watch a whole heap of buidlers / developers go bust over this decision……then will the Govt bail them out?
    At the end of the day someway, somehow the taxpayer will foot the bill!

  2. Lucky there’s no ponzi scheme and construction ghosting to add further risk to the apartment construction sector in Australia. Safe as houses! (Warm too with the right ignition source)

  3. I suspect the dodgy the builders will liquidate and phoenix under new identities, if they have not already. That has been the usual business practice to avoid liability.

    • The taxpayer will end up shafted because so many of the builders will go to the wall and someone will have to pay.

      • Sunlord BCNMEMBER

        Tax payer, why not just print more money to pay them out too.
        We may as well live in 1950’s USSR

        • We’ll be there soon enough — stagflation and widespread poverty.

          And no escape to greener pastures either because – Covid.

          • From an article in the Age,
            Modern Monetary Theory is to economics what hydroxychloroquine is to COVID treatment.

  4. Jevons ghostMEMBER

    Why replace the cladding? Instead, mandate the retrofitting of suitable external sprinkler systems with adequate rooftop water storage as backup.

  5. The whole f*** business about “Biowood” as an exterior building cladding is a total disgrace. I got a Dip in Bldg in 2014 and I couldn’t build a goddam doghouse . I look back as an undergrad in Elect Eng UNSW long ago and understand building standards have dropped into the core of the earth never to be found again. You have these policies in the BCA now called NCC to make it sound sophisticated where a potentially degradable, high maintenance and flammable sheeting material has been applied to multistorey buildings .It’s insane. How the f*** did this happen you ask ? Simple . The NCC considers “innovative” and creative solns to building needs to be acceptable as long as some “authorative body” has signed off on it. Guess what .? It was the Chinese suppliers from some dodgy Chinese lab.! Now that it’s been to court and the judge said WTF is this? The buck stops with the licensed builder . They will all declare bankruptcy now and it will be suck my d*** time. All these folks stuck with unsaleable and un rentable apartments. I have been a Sydney RE for 25 yrs before moving to Qld and witnessed the goings on. This is the tip of the iceberg along with concrete spalling or cancer as it’s known . The 90s push to have private building certifiers for the DAs is what f*** it.