On the 25th of November 2014 the Lacosse building in Docklands, Melbourne VIC was severely damaged as a result of a fire. The fire had originally begun on a unit on the 8th floor from a suspected cigarette and within 11 minutes had spread upto the external cladding to the top floor.
After an investigation and report by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade it was found that the external cladding used throughout the site had not been tested and did not comply with the Australian Standards. The Victorian Building Association which is Victoria’s building regulator has announced that it will undertake audits on all high rise buildings in Melbourne’s CBD that has been built in the past 10 years and determine whether a non-compliant cladding has been installed.
A major issue that arises after these audits have been conducted and it is found that your building has non-compliant external cladding installed is who pays for the removal and rectification of the non-compliant external cladding.
Currently Slayter and Gordon are representing over 100 owners and residents of the Lacosse Building as they are currently suing the Victorian builders and the damages could run into the millions of dollars, however in most circumstances the owners will foot the bill and then seek compensation once the works are completed and some experts say the costs could sit around the 16 million dollar mark.
MFB Chief Office Peter Rau was quoted saying “the external cladding on this building (Lacosse) did not to the degree necessary avoid the spread of fire as required by the Building Code of Australia”.
The external cladding used at the Lacosse building was imported from China and is called Alucobest. Alucobest is comprised of aluminum as the outer surface however the inner core is polyethylene (plastic fibre), the correct external cladding to be used is Alucobond which like Alucobest has an aluminum outer surface however the internal material is a mineral fibre. With the non-compliant cladding the spread of fire is created from the internal plastic fibre and once at ignition point the end results can be catastrophic.
It is highly recommended that if you have external cladding on your building then you should discuss this with your strata manager and have an audit carried out on your cladding.