Project Remediate Town Hall for local government
We hosted a Town Hall for local council representatives on 6 June 2022.
- Project Remediate update
- Better Regulation Division update
- Question & answer session
- Closing remarks
- Scott Phillips, Chief Executive Officer, Local Government NSW
- Overview of the agenda and housekeeping
- Office Project Remediate update
- Matt Press, Better Regulation Division
- Matt Whitton, Better Regulation Division
- Q&A session
Tanya O’Brien: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us for our Project Remediate Town Hall. And we are obviously joining you today online. Thank you again for your patience and accepting us in your digital environment.
As you probably know, my name is Tanya O'Brien, I'm the director of the Office of Project Remediate and I'll be your host for the event today.
I want to, first of all, just say, a very well welcome to everyone in our audience. I, today, am coming to you from Darug land and I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the various lands on which we all meet here today, together.
And I want to pay my respects to the Elders past, present and emerging. I also extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are joining us today.
I will pause just to mention that I am suffering the after-effects of a little bit of COVID, partly because I didn't get any sympathy over the weekend, and I'm hoping that maybe you guys can help me out.
But mostly just because it's a really good change theme. COVID is obviously one of the major game changers that we're all dealing with, and in our world, which is constantly changing and constantly throwing up new and wicked ideas and concepts and challenges for us in the public sector, us public servants, it's our collective job to come up with the strategies that it takes to come back from all those things.
As you obviously know, Project Remediate is all about flammable cladding, and that's just one of those big issues that we are coming up against. And one that I acknowledge that we will collectively have to work together to combat. And so, I guess in acknowledgement of that spirit of collaboration, particularly with our local government partners, I thank you all for joining us.
And I would like to, first of all, welcome Scott Phillips, who you all know is the CEO of Local Government New South Wales. We're very pleased that Scott's able to join us today. And if you have a few words to kick us off, Scott.
Scott Phillips: Yes, thanks Tanya, well done. You're doing very well in the circumstances. And good afternoon, everybody. I'm Scott Phillips, Chief Executive at LGNSW. Having previously spent the majority of my career in council land with many of you. I, too, would also like to acknowledge country.
I'm speaking to you today from Gadigal land in the Eora nation and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. Thank you to everybody for joining the forum today. I understand we have about a hundred or so council officers online.
Thank you to Commissioner David Chandler, to Matt Press, to you, Tanya, and to the Project Remediate team for organising this council update today.
We're here to hear from state government colleagues about where they're up to in managing the response to cladding, how they're going about strengthening their role as the building regulator. And of course, to allow each of you to ask questions of them and perhaps of us as well.
To bring a sector perspective, I'd like to just briefly highlight some of our key policy and advocacy areas. So, within the building regulation and cladding policy area, firstly, I'd like to put on record that LGNSW and our members have welcomed the building regulation reforms.
I think we can all agree that since he started about two and a half years ago as the building commissioner, David and his team have made some remarkable gains. We have course as a sector been calling repeatedly for reforms for about two decades before this. So, it's just wonderful to see the momentum that David's led with his team.
Secondly, we acknowledge the initial focus of the building reforms has been on tighter regulation of residential apartments, the class two buildings. But our view is that the reforms must continue and capture other building types and classes in the future. And we've certainly talked to David and his team about that.
Thirdly, on combustible cladding, we acknowledge the Project Remediate program, resourcing to support this work and deal with all the other buildings that fall outside this program remains challenging for councils with very little additional funding support. Although I must say and acknowledge David's offer of $10,000 per building to help councils dealing with high risk cladding.
Working as I do, advocating for funding for the sector. That's about the easiest negotiation I've ever been involved in. I do want to acknowledge and thank the team for that. I encourage you to ask questions. Let's try to work together and make this a productive and constructive discussion. So, thank you again and I'll throw it back to you, Tanya.
Tanya O’Brien: Thanks so much, Scott, that's great. So we might just kick off a little bit of housekeeping next. Obviously, we are going to be recording today's session. That means that we'll be able to provide this and share it as a resource into the future. The transcript, the recording, the presentation, and the Q&A session.
We'll have a Q&A session at the end, but we will try and gather all of the questions that we do and do not get through and provide that through you on our Project Remediate website as a resource into the future as well.
On the right-hand side of your panels, you should be able to see two tabs and one is there for you to be able to submit some questions for our Q&A session. And that will be happening later on in the event. I can see that some people have already started and finding that element, please continue to pop through your questions so that we can get back some answers to you as soon as we can.
And just at the end of the day or at the end of the session, we're going to ask you just to click that little poll tab to complete a quick survey and just give us your feedback from today. So, we might just jump into the next slide which is around the agenda.
Before we get through too much, I'll just give you a quick overview of what we're going to do. We'll begin by a Project Remediate update. We will also hear from Matt Press who has recently moved from the Office of the Building Commissioner through to BRD as the Executive Director. And he's going to tell you a little bit about his role and update you on the transformation work that's happening in that space.
Then we'll hear from Matt Whitton, also from our Better Regulation Division, who's going to speak to you about compliance certifier audits that we've been undertaking and that program. And that will be finished off with the Q&A session. And then we'll just wrap up for the afternoon.
So, without further ado, I'll kick into some slides just about Project Remediate and help you understand where we're up to. I know that this is probably all boring and you've seen it probably a thousand times before but just as a reminder, Project Remediate is that three-year program that helps us remove combustible cladding from eligible, high risk residential class-2 buildings across New South Wales.
It is an opt-in program and we have approximately 200 or so buildings that we're actively working with, to secure them with some support. And that support comes in the way of an interest free loan. And it also is in the way of an assurance layer which helps the owner's corporations, who we know are just normal mums and dads and that kind of thing. To go through and secure an appropriate remediation contractor. To be able to do the design work necessary to meet the D&B Act and to assist everyone in getting good quality value and value for money responses. So, that's our program.
Onto the next slide, like I said earlier, remediation is a small part of the construction world. It's not usually something that the biggest players in the building sector get involved in. So, we know that we need to target the smaller projects, and we know that we have to have a small single building focus on every single project that we go into. But we are looking to make sure that we have a repeatable high-quality approach.
That means that for all of those 200 individual buildings, they all feel like they've got individual support, that they have the customer satisfaction insured to make sure that they know at any point that they can pick up the phone, they can drop an email, they can get in contact with the team. And if they've got a problem then it will be proactively resolved.
We're all about making sure that the team involved is delivering value for money. And that means competitive tendering. It means every single dollar that we sign off on is being checked over, and to the end products, we want to make sure that the product we deliver back to the market, back to those moms and dads is fully insurable. And that means no carve outs. It means no ifs and buts when it comes to cladding.
We are making sure that what we deliver is recognised by the insurance industry as a quality outcome. I touched on earlier, we are obviously doing this and it is repeatable, and we are continuing to repeat every single one of these steps over 200 times. Hopefully by the end that means we're going to be absolutely expert at it. But it means also that we have the opportunity to learn from it, we have kicked off with three very quick out of the gates buildings that we are focusing on.
And those buildings are at the moment getting in the tender phase. We're actually evaluating the tender for the actual physical works with view for those to commence in the next six weeks, eight weeks. Again, we have a 200 building cycle. So, we have cycled out and built out a building program for every single one of those buildings.
The thing that we note and I will call out for our local government partners here is that this is a collaboration. Again, I'll touch on the fact that it's an opt in program as well. So, if we hit a building or an Owners Corporation where they're stalling, where they're struggling, where they can't get to a decision point so that we can move forward, there very well will come a time when we will come back to our local government partners and tap you on the shoulder and share that information.
What do we want you to do with it? We want you to help us out. Because in part, the end goal is to get this remediation completed. It is to ensure that the buildings, the fire, the combustible cladding on these buildings is actually dealt with proactively. If we don't get an Owners Corporation that's able to cross the line and actually make those decisions necessary, then we're going to come back, tap you on the shoulder and see what we can do to actually just remind them that there is a fire order sitting behind the work and making sure that we can ensure that at the end of the day, the work gets completed whether it's via our program or if it's done privately.
Obviously, we want to be able to help out. We want to be able to have the government supporting them through this process. But hopefully, we'll be able to do that collaboratively with you. This is just to give you a quick understanding of where we're at in terms of the program. Initially, we have kicked off all of the investigations, the building investigations, and what we are doing is going out there, having a physical look at the buildings, taking material off the buildings, seeing what is happening in the sub frames.
So, we have the authority to do that for 81 of the buildings we have started to actually, what we call triage, which is take off that remediation work. We've done about 30 or so of those buildings already with reports have been written up.
We've got about 45 of those scheduled to happen over the next couple of weeks or in the next couple of weeks, being in June. Those investigations, what we do with that is that the information gets written up into a report. That report is given to the design teams and the design teams then will develop up to a 30% level to design options for the most part. Those two design options will be passed by local government, we'll be checking in with you and sort of saying, does the design work for you guys? And if it does, that's great. We'll make sure that we detail it out fully.
The Owner’s Corporation get to have a bit of a look at that point. And this is when they say to us, yes, we want to go ahead with this material or this material. And that they get presented information around the longevity of the material.
What does it mean in terms of maintenance requirements for them? What does it do to look and feel of their building, all of those elements. And once we've got that design decision, we go to the next step, which is fully completing out that design stage.
We've got three buildings that are in that process of, they've finished out those design stages and we're actually going into the construction tendering phase. And every single owner's corporation will get three quotations from a qualified builder site superintendent and assurer. And that means that they have this, both the peace of mind that they're getting, attended quality, quality quote, but it also means that the quotations are given the best understanding of what the building sub frame, et cetera, looks like.
That means that we can avoid cost overruns and those hidden surprises that come up because as best we can, we've done everything we can to know what's going on with those buildings before we actually start the remediation work.
And that means that hopefully our contingency will be more intact. So, from there, we need to get the OC to sign the construction contracts. And then obviously the remediation will commence and roll from there.
The early buildings, like I said, we've done about 30 or so of these buildings. And what we've seen is both surprising and unfortunately not surprising. You guys all know what buildings look like. And over the last 15 or so years of building, we know that there's common deficiencies in buildings. So, what we are seeing is evidence of buildings that have got no cavity barriers.
They've got no weatherproofing, they're not watertight. Perhaps even no moisture barriers are actually being installed at all, no sarking. We're seeing corrosion, we're seeing bent and inadequate sub framing. We're seeing just installation that had been obviously hurried and inconsistent throughout the delivery of the building when it was initially put together.
We're seeing sorts of corners being cut, not following the manufacturer's installation guides. We're seeing evidence that obviously the builders just kind of done it. Again, there's going to be cracks in there. And obviously, we are hoping for a couple of very cute little baby birds to be born soon because there's a few buildings that are certainly not watertight.
And as a result you can see lots of things with moisture and mould and all those kind of issues, which is a concern. This all just means that we know that when we actually do the actual building, that there's going to be more elements that are needed to be fixed other than just taking off one material and putting on the other.
And this is where I guess we're a little concerned that the private remediation jobs are falling short. They are dealing with exactly the same substructure issues that we are looking at. And I guess I'm just calling out for you guys that we need to make sure as a government industry that's looking to support the owners of these buildings.
We want to make sure that we are not just taking off something and replacing it with another material, leaving and covering up the issues that are in place. So, obviously Project Remediate will be proactively looking at those waterproofing issues. And dealing with those issues as we go through the process, to deliver a quality result, which we want to make sure that it's clear.
There are similar problems out there that need to be addressed as part of the private remediation approaches as well, which is where you guys all come in.
This is just a reminder about when we will check in with you through our process. So, right at the beginning, we'll be checking the fire orders that are in play. We'll be looking if there's joint orders that we'll be splitting out the firewater elements so that we can address those completely ourselves.
And for some, we will be asking for modification to the timeframes, et cetera. Just on timeframes, again, like I was saying before, it is an opt in program and we would like to be able to keep those timeframes intact that you guys have set initially, where we ask, we'd love to be able to sort of say, look, can we have an extra month or two months or whatever it is.
And we hope that you'll help us out there. But where the buildings are falling into that state of, they're not being particularly responsive to us or that we don't see any evidence of them moving ahead with the remediation, we'd like you to keep that pressure on.
There's a few councils that we're working on where the message is very loud and clear back to the Owners Corporation that if they don't take up the option of sticking in Project Remediate, that there's no further extensions to the fire orders that are available through to them.
So, I'd encourage you all to have a think about that as a way of helping us to together get that outcome that these buildings just need to take some steps and actually deliver the remediation.
Again, we'll check in that 30% design stage, make sure that you're okay with the design work that we've done throughout the construction period. Of course, we welcome any of the council inspectors if you'd like to come through and have a look at the building work as it's going ahead.
And right at the end obviously, we'll be coming back to you and asking for you to consider the work that's been done and hopefully lift that fire order.
I would like at this point to hand over to Matt Beattie, who's going to talk to us about the products. Thanks Matt.
Matt Beattie: Thanks Tanya, hi everybody. I'm just going to give a quick update on some recent developments from the Cladding Product Safety Panel.
As many of you probably know, the Cladding Product Safety Panel is the Government's independent expert panel that is providing advice around cladding remediation, and particularly to inform the work we're doing under Project Remediate. It issued a first report, April, last year, which endorsed four materials that could be used in Project Remediate and contains some other requirements around the design and installation.
The second report was recently released and published on the 28th of April 2022. And it contains a few more types of materials that are endorsed along with some guidance on the use of those materials. It has an update on some testing that was conducted on bonded laminate cladding products. It has some specifications and recommendations around the use of cavity barriers that will be adopted in Project Remediate, and it contains an update as well on the recycling program.
We do encourage you to access that report, which can be found on the NSW Government website.
I will give a brief overview of a couple of those items that we think are likely to be of interest. When it comes to the additional materials, this second report endorses a further three types of materials specifically for Project Remediate. The first category is bonded laminated materials. These are cladding materials that have been under consideration by the panel for some time. And it was flagged in Report 1 that that was the case, and that further consideration would be undertaken.
The Cladding Product Safety Panel actually conducted some reference testing on a couple of common bonded laminated material specimens. And it was based on the results of that testing that the panel has now decided the terms on which those materials can be endorsed for use in Project Remediate.
The testing was testing to Australian standard 1530.3, which is specified in the national construction code, but in particular, that testing needs to be done with joints and penetrations that are representative of the way the panels will be installed on residential apartment buildings. And there is a detailed test methodology that is annexed to the report. The endorsement of these materials is not automatic. We do expect that each supplier will conduct that testing and provide certification and evidence that has passed in line with those requirements.
The next category of material that is endorsed in this report is engineered ceramic cladding systems. These are things like terracotta or ceramic or porcelain cladding materials that are sometimes used for aesthetic reasons with a particular appearance. These are typically provided as systems, and obviously there's detailed engineering work that goes into the material and the installation and the build-up of those particular products.
The particular systems that are endorsed by the Cladding Product Safety Panel are those that have been determined non-combustible by way of testing to Australian standard 1530.1, and for which those testing results have been available to the Global Facade Consultant for Project Remediate. We encourage you of course to have a look at the full report for the full details around that.
Finally, the panel also endorsed the use of metal sub framing components. I think that's largely self-explanatory, it's typical that metal, steel or aluminium components are used as part of the wall build-up when it comes to a cladding system. Those are established to be non-combustible and appropriate for use.
The report also provides some detail on the cavity barrier requirements that will apply in Project Remediate. This is another area that was flagged in Report 1, the fact that cavity barriers would be required in Project Remediate. These requirements have been fleshed out in Report 2, and some of the highlights are just summarised here. Being that cavity barriers are required around windows, doors and other openings. They're required at horizontal slab edges between stories and they're required vertically where internal bounding walls meet the facade. And do go and have a look at that report for the full details around those requirements.
Vertical barriers are to be closed state and horizontal barriers are to be open state. So, that refers to the vertical barriers being basically a solid barrier while the horizontal barriers can be open or an intumescent type of barrier, which is specifically to allow for drainage of water to drain through those horizontal barriers and avoid the build-up of water. But those barriers do expand and seal when exposed to fire.
The Project Remediate Pattern Book which is under development and will actually be released later this month. We'll go into a great amount of detail about the design installation and maintenance requirements around these cavity barriers. So, I encourage you to keep an eye out for that as well.
Finally, the report also gives a quick update on the recycling that will take place under Project Remediate. There's been some extensive market research done by Hansen Yuncken, our Managing Contractor around the waste disposal and recycling options. Because of the scale of Project Remediate, we're looking to remove up to approximately 350,000 square metres of cladding materials.
There's an opportunity for a global procurement solution. And that's what we will be putting into place to implement a process to ensure that cladding is recycled rather than ending up in landfill. And as I said, because of the scale of the program, that's able to be done at a price point that delivers good value to the building owners as well.
The appointment of PanelCycle which is a Sydney based company based at Silverwater, is obviously a boost to that small business as well. And they will be designated as the preferred supplier for waste disposal and recycling as a result of a competitive tender process that Hansen Yuncken undertook.
The bottom line there is, as you can see in the graphic, approximately six Olympic swimming pools of material can be saved from ending up in landfill through that recycling program. And that aluminium is obviously recyclable and the polyethylene is also recyclable, and will end up being used in a number of other construction materials, plastic type, rubber stops for car parking and garden edging and those sorts of things. We're very pleased that we've been able to secure that which is a good environmental and financial outcome.
So, that's it for me, I'll hand back to continue with the session.
Tanya O’Brien: Lovely, thank you. At this point, I'll just introduce you all to Chris Lentholm who is a Senior Compliance Officer with Project Remediate. Chris, did you want to jump in please?
Chris Lentholm: Thanks Tanya, good afternoon everyone. I'm going to briefly discuss if the rectification is to be completed inside or outside of Project Remediate.
The residents deserve the same level of assurance that the matter will be dealt with. I would like to take this opportunity to talk through and to share the main steps Project Remediate will be performing to ensure compliance and to clear any fire safety order.
The remediation process can be split into four stages. The proposal submission and approval stage, preparing for site possession, the construction phase, and the final inspection or closeout stage.
During the submission and approval stages, it would be assumed that the following would be requested as a minimum before possession of site. That would be architectural plans, facade engineer and fire safety engineers plans, material compliance confirmation, the engagement of the building surveyor of unrestricted class, who will be required to issue a BCA compliance statement, cladding sample board with manufacturers specifications and the colours to be used on the project, site management and material handling plans, waste management and transportation plans, scaffolding, hoist and traffic management plans, and the design scope and building work schedule.
Once this information has been collected and approved, Stage two is preparing for site possession which also includes Safe Work requirements to include the safety for both occupants and workers on site. This is a particularly important milestone for the remediation project.
To achieve the correct standard of care, it would be expected signs displaying details of the site managers, certifiers and building practitioners that will work on site, temporary fencing to restrict entry of the public and residents to the building site, availability of plans, Design and Building Practitioner Act declarations and miscellaneous approvals, in depth detail of work site layout to enable work without risk to health and safety, adequate facilities for workers including access to toilets and drinking water, risk management associated with remote isolated work or working at heights, provision of emergency plans, taking into consideration the specific hazards, clear exits and clear access to fire safety systems for use by Fire and Rescue New South Wales, safety standards for working at heights including temporary structures, hoardings, scaffolds and ladders, traffic and moving plant management including the provision of separate entries and exits for mobile equipment and pedestrians to minimise the risk to people and the likelihood of accidents.
The next stage is inspections during the construction stage. During construction, it would be expected that the authorised offices, building practitioners and trades would keep an eye on the site as it progresses. This is to ensure and verify that all conditions and terms of the fire safety order are being applied and followed.
This includes checking that the conditions relating to the removal and replacement of materials are being met, ensuring relevant plans, designs, and material specifications are available at all times on site, protection of building services and public amenities such as trees and lamp posts, location of storage, waste storage and material storage, and it's located in the agreed areas. Maintenance of fire safety systems and fire exit clearances, and the replacement material installation as per approved documents.
Stage four is the final stage of remediation work, may include handing back possession of the site, ensuring that all building materials and waste have been removed and that the compliance and safety can be confirmed.
This process may be via visual or document-based audits. Final inspection checks may include checking all approved work has been completed in accordance with the fire order, gathering evidence of compliance with the Design and Building Practitioners Act declarations made by building practitioners, obtaining a assurance certificate or statement confirming BCA compliance from the building surveyor. And checking all terms of the fire safety order have been met.
When allocating progress inspections during construction, it would be assumed that the following pattern would follow the critical stage inspections expected for a construction certificate as a minimum. But wherever possible, it would be encouraged to increase the frequency of the progress inspections to ensure the safety of the occupants, and to improve the quality of the building work.
By doing this, confirmation that no corners have been cut could be established, and the consent authority should have no questions in removing the fire safety order.
Finally, the design and building practitioners requirements. So, pursuant to section four of the Design and Building Practitioners Act external cladding remediation work is included in the definition of building work that is required to be supported by a regulated design.
A regulated design includes a plan specification and report detailing a design prepared for external cladding remediation building work. Regulated designs will be declared by way of a design compliance declaration by a registered design practitioner to identify and confirm whether or not the regulated designs prepared for the building work comply with the requirements of the BCA, the relevant standards, codes or requirements of the design and building practitioners regulations.
The consent authority may ask the person whom the fire order is issued to provide evidence of the declarations made under the design and building practitioners act to check compliance with the fire order. The information listed on the slide there at the bottom has been released by New South Wales Fair Trading to help the industry understand any obligations to this act. Thanks, I'll hand back now.
Tanya O’Brien: Great, no worries. Next, we'll introduce Matt Press who is used to be in the office of the building commissioner but has recently joined the better regulation division or BRD as the executive director of compliance and dispute resolution. Over to you, Matt.
Matt Press: Thanks Tanya and afternoon everyone. Yes, so I've recently moved from the Office of Building Commissioner into the business, if you could call it that way. Now I look after Fair Trading and SafeWork, still in the construction space but also broadly across work health safety generally. A team of about 500. So, you haven't got rid of me just yet because building's one of our key focuses.
I wanted to convey to you what the focus is for construction New South Wales going forward with me in Fair Trading and SafeWork, rather than the office of building commissioner. It's building on the strong foundations that we established through the OBC period. Our bedrocks of how we're going to work as the regulator is one trust.
I think we've gained a lot of trust with both councils and industry stakeholders over the last two years. It's absolutely on Matt and my other colleague, Matt Whitton, who you're going to hear from a second to maintain that. And so that means we are going to continue engaging with you regularly.
We want you to reach out to us when you have issues and we'll do our best to try and support you whether that's through inspections or education and capability building impact. We want to make sure that where we expand our resources, they make a difference. They make a difference to the communities that we're involved in and the buildings that we regulate. So, we're going to continue to focus our efforts on the high-risk players, be that builders, developers, certifiers, engineers, designers. And to continue to look for actions that are really going to change the game.
You'll see many more things like enforceable undertakings, where we're working with builders and developers that are solvent to resolve issues that have been swinging around in legal processes or potential sediments for many years, we want to make sure that when we get involved, we actually move the needle forward.
And the last part of our approach is collaboration. As you all know, you can't do any of this in isolation. We do need to be working with councils as our co-regulators. We do need to be working with all the different parts of the industry and other agencies like Fire and Rescue NSW. That's going to continue to be a big part of our work going forward as well.
One of the luxuries I have in my role is that, because it brings together SafeWork and Fair Trading, we can start to combine our focus around this concept of being trustworthy. So, you've heard David and I and others speak about our objective to produce trustworthy buildings, and I think that's a very powerful way of describing what we want to try and achieve.
Now, we're going to translate that onto the SafeWork side to say, it's really about having trustworthy workplaces, as in, let's make sure that things are being built safely. All of our employees, apprentices, supervisors, they get home safely.
And the final result that they're working on is a trustworthy building. We're also going to be combining our resources more and more in that space so that we have a construction team and SafeWork, one focused on Metro issues, one focused on regional issues. We're going to be working more closely between SafeWork and Fair Trading because we see just as you see that safety is a lead for other problems on a project.
When we see the site where the gates are falling over, the trucks are parked all over the footpaths. There's a lack attitude to safety and site hygiene. Those are the sites in which we inherently find building quality issues. More and more we're going to be going in jointly and doing joint operations together. If we do that, that gives us around 250 boots in the field which is a really efficient way of protecting the community.
We're also going to continue to work hard to get to the front of the bus. I think when we started two years ago, we're definitely driving regulation from very much the back seats. We're probably somewhere near the middle to the front quarter now. We want to keep working on both proactive audits in the building safety space, but also the building quality. So here, you can see an example of the work that we've been doing over the last 18 months.
The one that I want particularly highlight is these design and building practitioner audits. So, with the new legislation, that's where we get sent through the planning portal, all of the designs for each stage of construction. We've audited 16 projects thus far, and that's given us a massive reach in just 16 class-two projects. That's effectively having a quality assurance and compliance overlay for some 2,600 apartments. So, much greater reach than when we do audits which gets us a real one to one relationship, of now, which we've done around 140 pre-OC audits.
We're also focused a lot on certifiers. Matt's going to talk to you about our audits of local councils, because that's just as important as private certification, both are equally important. And you'll see there safety where falls from heights in particular, continues to be an ongoing issue in construction.
So, I'd like to introduce you now to Matt Whitton who's going to take you through our audit of certifiers, both private and local council.
Matt Whitton: Thanks Matt, and welcome everyone. Appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today.
I'm going to give you an update today on some of the work we've been doing, auditing the certification industry more recently. So, a couple of key programs to talk about. And you may have read about this in the media, it is the riskiest certifier audit program. And this program was commenced last year and finished earlier in 2022.
We started around August of 2021, and we finished in around April of 2022. It took quite a considerable amount of time as you can see because there was over 45,000 particular documents reviewed, but our key focus was data driven.
We targeted 11 certifiers, private certifiers for the audit, but which we only ended up auditing nine, two were actually disqualified during that transition. So, I think that shows that our data works pretty well when two of them were actually removed from industry as the order took place and subsequent to the order. 68 developments Class 2, our high rise residential sector, and really focused on where we saw the key harms. And what were the findings, obviously incorrect version of BCA.
I do know there's some work underway at the moment to look at that and how that may move forward. In some agreement, there has been some confusion amongst industry and obviously, I guess industry practice comes up a lot when we do talk about that version of BCA. We do have just certificates generally, I guess the quality of them, who is it that actually signed them? What were their qualifications?
So, accepting certificates, particularly for stage construction, et cetera, and component certificates, which just really shouldn't have been accepted. We've had obviously one issue where it appeared the certifiers acting also as a design, assisting in the design of the building. So, clear conflict of interest there.
And obviously failing to adequately review when there's a change of certifier, which we do have at the moment, we're finding some certifiers are leaving, where they are a PCA and maybe they've taken a bit too much on.
So, we're seeing that, and failing to adequately review a critical stage inspection report that was completed by another certifier. So, simply relying on the previous certifiers, I guess, review or file rather than doing that thorough review, and seeing where maybe there needs to be additional work completed. And obviously the form of the construction studio was not in accordance with the regulation.
Key outcomes, this was never anticipated to be a heavy compliance program. Some of it was obviously using our soft powers, but we had four certifiers that were educators, a result of that two, we issued with formal warnings or warning letters, but we did have three that were escalated for further investigation with our certified integrity unit, which is disappointing. But obviously, they will now go through that process.
Moving on, we have currently started, recently in April, sorry, in May I should say, the beginning of May, we started the local government certified program. Thinking behind this was, we've ordered the private certification industry. It's an opportunity now to audit the local government certification, I guess, sector to see, are we seeing similar trends?
Are they different? And it's going to give us a really good platform to move forward with education, whether it be through CCPD, but just learning modules to partner with Local Government New South Wales, I guess the associations that are out there, the AAC, AIBS et cetera, to really push forward what that education and what compliance looks like moving forward. So, we selected nine local government authorities or nine councils for the audit.
And our key thinking was, we'll send notices out. We're looking for what class two developments. They may have been the BCA for over the last six years. As a result of that, we got a bit of a mixed response, but we selected 20 residential apartment buildings. Again, class two to be audited. And very similar to the riskiest certifiers program.
We're really looking at the standard of certifications and evidence of suitability, correct version of the NCC applied. So, really you you've got your standards right, you've got that correct versions in there. Standard fire safety schedule and measures.
That's something that did jump out, I guess, when we looked at the riskiest certifiers over a 140 non-compliances detected, and they range from what we call green which is a lower risk to your amber up to your red, which is your high risk non-compliances. Forms of construction certificates not being compliant, standard of construction certificate and occupation certificate, applications accepted. So, probably questionable, evidence of critical stage inspections undertaken, review levels of registration conditions. So, that's another one, really looking at who are the individuals that are conducting these inspections and who are the individuals that are actually signing off on certificates and making sure they are appropriately qualified and registered.
And obviously, review of contracts. We really want to know what those contracts are between both local councils, I should say, and the owners to see what's in them and obviously confirmed that they are compliant. And obviously, process and procedures. So, how are you conducting certification within your council.
Outcome of this program's a little bit different. We will provide a report to each individual council of what our findings are. We also meet with the council post that if there are again non-compliances, or what we deem to be issues. There we will meet with the council. We will meet with the council anyway, and then obviously, we will provide a de-identified report to local government in New South Wales and more broadly to industry like we do, like we did I should say with the riskiest certifiers program. Again, to keep you informed but also so we can set the platform moving forward as to what compliance looks like. Thank you, and I'll hand it back to you, Tanya.
Matt Whitton: Thank you so much, that's really a great overview of the stuff that's coming out of BRD. And hopefully, that's of interest and we've all learned something out of all of that, so that's great.
Tanya O’Brien: I know that we're running a little bit short on time, so I will first of all say that we have gathered a lot of questions through slider. Thank you very much for submitting all of those. And we will undertake to ensure that we can get back to you in writing and provide that as a Q&A resource on our website. So, if we don't go through all of them and you don't hear your question asked today, please follow up on the Q&A document as it comes in the next week or two. But in saying that, I might sort of zoom through some of the more popular questions on slider, and I can see there that we've got a few thumbs up on a few of these questions. So, I'll try and pick some of those ones, particularly.
And Matt Beattie, I might sort of flag you for this one just to start off with. But the question's around, can DCS or I'm assuming Project Remediate, update the spreadsheets perhaps on a monthly basis or something like that, so that the council offices can have a look into that, see where the building's up to and see what the next steps are.
Matt Beattie: Thanks Tanya, I think, yes, we certainly can. We have a project actually underway at the moment to go council by council and just consolidate the status of buildings that have registered, buildings that have been eligible but haven't registered, and where they're up to in the program. And yeah, certainly we can make that an ongoing thing and circulate it via spreadsheets and hopefully tap into that existing collaboration that happens, so yeah, I think it's a great idea.
Tanya O’Brien: Yeah, absolutely, and I think it becomes almost a two way straight because that data helps you guys, help your customers and by the same report that helps us to know what your customers or the ones going down that private remediation approach are doing. So, absolutely a virtual circle there.
There's another real quickie here. Matt, can Project Remediate please provide an update to the acceptable replacement products that are going to be used through Project Remediate in the second cladding report? I think you went through that most of those today but...
Matt Beattie: Yeah, so hit that link, we'll circulate these slides and you can access that report on the website. And yeah, as I said earlier, three additional types of materials endorsed in that one.
Tanya O’Brien: Question, and this one actually possibly is a little bit open up for grabs for a few people, is Project Remediate referring poor builders who originally built the building and who is probably still around. Are we referring any of those people through to Fair Trading for compliance action? So, maybe Matt Beattie, I might give you that one to start with, but maybe Matt Whitton, I might ask you to follow up and talk about your side of the story on that one.
Matt Beattie: So, I know from the Project Remediate side of things, we are taking the opportunity to have a bit more look at these buildings when we go out to inspect the facade, especially when it's a building that's less than 10 years old. And there's still a developer in picture who we might, if we uncover defects, we might be able to hold that developer responsible and get them to fix it up. So, we're certainly looking, keeping our eyes open for those other sorts of issues that might exist in the building elements and referring that information to the Fair Trading when we come across it. So, the other two Matts can probably take over as to what happens next.
Matt Whitton: Yeah, I'm happy to speak to that, Matt just gave a brief update. So, just in general with builders, I can say that there are a number of builders that are currently under investigation by Fair Trading, but they're also in the last 12 months, we have disqualified two builders, and we do have, we have about three builders that are currently subject to disintegration. So, the answer is yes, we are. We are actively looking at builders and looking at their conduct, particularly in regards to the quality build and where there is non-compliance and where we see that as an ongoing risk to our consumers and to the end occupants and owners of these buildings. We're definitely taking a fairly hard approach to that.
Tanya O’Brien: Nice, okay. I'm going to put this one to Matt Press. Who will be responsible for building regulation and reform when David Chandler hangs up his boots?
Matt Press: How do you replace David Chandler is the question I think there. Look, you certainly don't go back to the factory and find the mould. I think it was a one of a unique, but it goes back to, it's got to be more than one person, this transformation. So, for the next period particularly, we're very much focused on making sure all of the energy that David's brought to the transformation, both in the industry and in the regulator is carried through to people like this Matt and my other Matt, Matt Whitton, and all of the other people in Fair Trading and SafeWork. So, on the policy and legislation slide particularly, you may have heard the name Angus Abadee, he's responsible for building reform in the policy team and is joined at the hip to us, and really wants to make sure that we make the legislation come up to 21st century standards, not just our compliance approach.
Tanya O’Brien: Yeah, absolutely. Like you said, big shoes to fill. And like you said, probably going to take multiple people with multiple approaches, teamwork, we can do it. This one possibly again might be for you, Matt Press. Paul has a question here, I note that the focus has been on legislative changes for particularly around certifiers and the management of the developer and the builder, and, oh, sorry. What about the management of the developer, builder and engineers who all need to be held accountable and not just the certifier as the easy target?
Matt Press: Yeah, definitely, and in the design and building practitioner audits. So, the audits where we look at the declared designs that are coming to the planning portal, it's very much all of the construction team knows that their work is being looked at. So, we bring together the architect, the certifier, the engineer or engineers, whether they facade or structural for anchoring, the developer there as well, the builder.
So, our approach is to actually bring the entire construction team together and then pretty much one by one go through each of their areas for improvement. So no one is left missing from that. Particularly now, that all of those design practitioners and engineers are now registered. We have been taking a relatively educative approach in the first few audits, but increasingly as we get to the back end of this year, Matt's team will start to wind it up and become a little bit more forceful. Will also make sure we use force when required. And so, if you look at the register of orders, you'll see that there's actually a stop work order based on a design audit.
So there, the designs were not integrated, not been sufficiently reviewed. It was essentially a dog's breakfast. So, within about two days, there was a stop work order issued. So, we are taking that executive approach, but if it's poor, we'll also call it out.
Tanya O’Brien: Yeah, no, that's excellent, excellent. And I think that's a really strong indication of how responsibility in this space is becoming the forefront. It is about not just acknowledging that we've had poor outcomes over the last 15 years of building, but it's actually about putting up, the regulator is holding people to account now. And it's good to see this height of change, hopefully is coming through.
Tanya O’Brien: Okay, maybe Matt Beattie, I might give you this one, what support or arrangement is there for when you find non-cladding defects that need remediation as part of the program?
Matt Beattie: So, I think that this ties in with the previous question and comments where we observe those issues that are evidence of defective building work, there's action that can be taken through the powers held by Fair Trading, by Matt Whitton and Matt Press's teams. So, when we find that when there's a developer or a builder who can be held responsible, that's the ideal outcome because it's not really the building owners who should be responsible for those things. If it's building built in the last 10 years, it's the people who are responsible for the construction of it. So, if there are any reports generated as a result of our investigation of the building, they can certainly be provided and that may assist in following it up. But ideally, those matters are subject of some compliance and enforcement action through Fair Trading to get the issues fixed.
Tanya O’Brien: Fantastic, I'm just noting very much that we are at time. Thank you so much to all of our panel and our presenters and for your interest in joining us today.
Also thank you to our Auslan interpreters who were helping us out and spreading the message. Again, I'll just quickly remind you that we do have a recording of today's session that will be made available on our website. We will also make those Q&A's available as soon as we finish those up.
We've got some fantastic questions to get through. Again, thank you very much. And before you log off, if you could just hit that button just to give us some feedback, that would be fantastic, on the website.
Have a lovely afternoon again, and thank you so much.
- Project Remediate Town Hall for local government Monday 6 June 2022.
Questions from the event
This is an overview of the questions asked by the audience.
Support for Owners Corporations through Project Remediate
What support is the government providing to residential building owners with flammable cladding where the building is not in Project Remediate?
Project Remediate is an opt-in program for eligible high-risk residential apartment buildings.
Retrospective Assistance is available if the Owners Corporation had commenced remediation before Project Remediate was available.
Some buildings that were not previously known as high-risk have also registered and were subsequently assessed as eligible and are benefiting from the program.
Buildings that are not high-risk (or not residential) most likely face a lower remediation burden or are owned by commercial or similar organisations that are better able to address fire risks and comply with fire safety orders compared with residential Owners Corporations.
Although not mandatory, all the guidance material for Project Remediate is available as an informative resource for other remediation projects.
How can you assure owners that the price to remediate will not be inflated due to demand?
Remediation work under Project Remediate will be staggered over the three-year program. This will be coordinated by the Managing Contractor, Hansen Yuncken, who has extensive experience in construction procurement and management.
All appointments of contractors and consultants will be on the basis of a pre-qualified panel which results from a competitive tender process to achieve value for money.
Owners Corporations will also benefit from program-wide sourcing where appropriate, such as in design where the Global Façade Consultant will maintain a ‘pattern book’ of design solutions that can be referenced by designers for each project. The services provided by the Managing Contractor and Global Façade Consultant are fully funded by government and represent a significant saving and benefit to Owners Corporations.
Opportunities for volume purchasing are also being considered to source common materials for use in the program.
Some Strata owners are struggling to meet Council order timelines and forced to make financial commitment to meet Council order requirements. Can Council orders be modified to meet Project Remediate requirements and timeline?
As Managing Contractor, Hansen Yuncken works with each Owners Corporation and the respective council or consent authority about the timeframes for any Fire Safety Orders. Where necessary, amendments to Fire Safety Orders will be sought on behalf of Owners Corporations. These changes seek to match the buildings’ fire order compliance date to the program schedule.
What support is available for Owners Corporations if non-cladding defects are found during a Project Remediate inspection? Is Project Remediate referring the original builders who constructed the building to Fair Trading for potential compliance action?
Project Remediate is taking the opportunity to inspect these buildings while we go out to inspect the façade. Where we become aware of non-façade related serious defects we will refer the building to NSW Fair Trading for investigation.
When the building is less than 10 years old and there is still a developer in the picture, NSW Fair Trading will use the available regulatory powers to issue the developer or builder with rectification orders.
I have been told by a strata manager of a building lodged with Project Remediate that the works will be completed by – Q4, 2023. Do these timeframes apply to all buildings that participate in Project Remediate?
The timeframe for completion of all the buildings is staged, and dependant on the size and complexity of the building.
Building regulation reforms
Who will be responsible for building regulation and reforms after when David Chandler’s remit as Building Commissioner finishes next year?
The Better Regulation Division is focussed on making sure that the transformation efforts established by the Office of the Building Commissioner continue to be developed and become business as usual. BRD is working closely with the Policy team in the Division’s Building Reform area to modernise the legislation as well as our compliance approach.
Design and Building Practitioners Act
What type of confirmation will council receive to demonstrate that the remediation design for a building participating in Project Remediate has been registered under the Design and Building Practitioners Act?
Pursuant to section 4(1) of the Design and Building Practitioners Act, external cladding remediation work is deemed to be “building work” under section 4(1) of the D&BP Act. All building work is required to be supported by a regulated design as required by section 5 of the D&BP Act.
A regulated design includes a plan, specification and a report detailing the design prepared for the building work.
All regulated designs are to be declared by way of a design compliance declaration by registered design practitioners on the NSW Planning Portal. This declaration confirms that the design complies with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia, relevant standards, codes or requirements and the D&BP Regulations.
When the designer makes the declaration on the ePlanning system, the council Development Compliance Officer will receive a notification. Alternatively council officers can perform a global search of the Planning Portal platform to identify any Remediation cases that are progressing via Project Remediate. Assistance and quick reference guides for this service are available from the Knowledge Management section of the NSW Planning Portal.
The regulatory authority may ask the person to whom the council order is issued to provide evidence by way of a design compliance declaration made under D&BP Act to check the compliance with the order.
How will council ensure that private remediation work (outside of Project Remediate) has been registered under the Design and Building Practitioners Act?
All external cladding remediation work is deemed to be “building work” under section 4(1) of the D&BP Act. All building work is required to be supported by a regulated design as required by section 5 of the D&BP Act. A regulated design includes a plan, specification and a report detailing the design prepared for the building work.
All regulated designs are to be declared by way of a design compliance declaration by registered design practitioners on the NSW Planning Portal. This declaration confirms that the design complies with the requirements of the BCA, relevant standards, codes or requirements and the D&BP Regulations.
Where the work progresses under Project Remediate, council development compliance officers will receive a notification from the NSW Planning Portal Project Remediate service.
Where the work progresses under private remediation efforts council development compliance officers will receive a notification from the NSW Planning Portal Remediation Works Application service which went live on 1 April 2022. All private remediation works must utilise the NSW Planning Portal to declare their designs under the D&BP Act.
When are there going to be legislative changes relating to the licensing and management of the developer/builder and engineers?
DCS undertakes random and targeted audits of the declared designs that are lodged in advance of requesting an Occupation Certificate for new residential class 2 building work.
The DCS approach is to consider the entire construction team (e.g. the architect, certifier, engineer/s, developer and the builder) and their outputs to consider the quality of the building.
How are we going ensure that everyone on a development project as well as onsite is registered?
Hansen Yuncken review all contractors and consultants who apply to work on Project Remediate. This review considers their capability, personnel, experience and reference projects. Only properly qualified contractors will be accepted. The program also is supported by assurers who will ensure that the work is carried out per the design and to meet the relevant standards.
Support for councils
What support is available for councils in their role to regulate buildings with flammable cladding outside the Project Remediate Program?
Resources developed to support Project Remediate are also made available to councils, industry and the community. These include:
- Template notices and orders that can be used by councils – these were recently updated to refer to new Design and Building Practitioner Act requirements
- Guidance material discussed in the Council Town Hall session
- The reports of the CPSP that are publicly available for information (although the recommendations are not mandatory for buildings outside Project Remediate)
- The Pattern Book developed by the Global Façade Consultant ACOR which will be published and updated throughout the program. This will be a comprehensive resource for the industry and the community and will provide detailed guidance on façade design including hundreds of technical drawings and diagrams.
What is the process for keeping owners and councils informed of the status of each Project Remediate building, such as a monthly update?
For owners corporations participating in the program, Hansen Yuncken as Managing Contractor is in regular contact with each building’s authorised representative, and also updates the council on the status including the scheduling of investigation and remediation works.
Hansen Yuncken also notifies councils when an Owners Corporation opts out or the project becomes inactive. These notifications have been tailored over time based on council feedback.
The Office of Project Remediate is developing a council-by-council update that will list the status of all registered buildings and buildings that are eligible and have not registered, for information and validation. We will trial this and if it is useful, continue to provide updates on a regular basis.
What is the process for Council to obtain the $10,000 for its work under Project Remediate process, and when will that opportunity be available?
Councils are eligible for a payment of $10,000 for each building that is remediated under Project Remediate. Councils will be eligible for payment once an Owners Corporation enters into contracts for remediation and an interest-free loan under the program. Payments will be made quarterly to councils based on the number of eligible buildings that entered into Project Remediate contracts within that quarter.
For more information about the Council Payment and to apply, visit the Project Remediate web page.
Could Project Remediate please provide the updated acceptable replacement cladding product list as provided by the second Cladding Product Safety Panel report.
The Cladding Product Safety Panel Report 2 is available on the Cladding Product Safety Panel page on the Cladding product safety panel NSW Government website.
6 materials have been endorsed by the CPSP for use within Project Remediate.
You can also find more information in the presentation delivered at this event.
Can you update us on your response to the Auditor General’s recommendations regarding its audit into the NSW Cladding Taskforce?
Work has commenced on responding to and implementation of the Audit Office report recommendations.
The Cladding Taskforce is proposing to hold a roundtable meeting with affected councils in the near future to discuss the recommendations.
Work had already commenced on development of a new information system prior to the Audit Office report and the Taskforce will also consult with councils on the design and user needs of that system.
Building owners who have not registered for Project Remediate are not being proactive, and our council is having difficulty forcing compliance. Can we have some guidance as to how these buildings can be moved forward?
Where the building is not within Project Remediate, the council’s normal compliance actions are required. Project Remediate has provided templates that councils can use to assist in drafting orders.
Where the building is part of Project Remediate, please contact our team to find out when the building is programmed to commence works.
Would like additional information in relation to the use of >30% PE Aluminium Composite Panel?
Some types of cladding made from aluminium composite panels (also called ACPs) have been banned in NSW due to fire safety risks. Further information is available on the NSW Fair Trading website.
Resolving Fire Safety Orders
What is Project Remediate doing to remind Strata Managers and Owners Corporations of the process of the need to comply with Fire Orders and the benefits of being involved with Project Remediate, rather than opting for private remediation?
All buildings that are eligible for Project Remediate have received a letter and information pack. Project Remediate has a range of information available including factsheets, videos, training materials on its website. The team also works closely with strata managers to raise their awareness of the opportunity, and provides materials directly targeted to assist Strata Managers.
Will an unrestricted certifier need to certify a Project Remediate cladding project. Will this be via a Complying Development Certificate?
Project Remediate works will be overseen by an assurer who performs a similar quality assurance role tot a certifier. Works will be undertaken under the council or DPE issued Fire Safety Order. All Assurers appointed to the program will be properly credentialled.
Auditing private certifiers is resulting in developer/builders coming to Council requesting issue of an Occupation Certificate. What’s the process when a certifier leaves a project, and the liability and risk for Council to resolve?
Under the legislation, councils must provide a certification service. Where a project certification is undertaken by council it must be satisfied that the building and related records support the issuance of an occupation certificate. Any building or compliance problems that are found through the review should be considered and a written directions notice for rectification issued by council.
FRNSW has provided our council with a list of non-compliance issues not related to Aluminium Composite Panels and wants council to issue a Fire Order before HY has investigated the building. Is this typical?
All buildings that are participating in Project Remediate have cladding which requires remediation.
In acknowledgement that Project Remediate addresses the high-risk residential buildings, a critical early review is the undertaking of an inspection by FRNSW. Where FRNSW officers find matters that require rectification, it is usual for those to be sent to the council for issuance of an order.
This seeks to ensure that the buildings’ fire safety systems are functional to protect residents in advance of and throughout the remediation process.
- Design Practitioner's Handbook (PDF)
- Regulated Design Guidance Material (PDF
- Undertaking Cladding Rectification Work Guidance Material (PDF)
For any inquiries contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org