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Raising Consumer Confidence in Residential Apartment Buildings – The New South Wales Pillar 1 Reforms

by Laina Chan

Confidence in the New South Wales (NSW) residential apartment building market following the highly publicised structural failures in the Opal Tower and Mascot Tower is at an all-time low. However, even prior to these two highly publicised failures, there had been a “cladding crisis” in Australia following the Lacrosse building fire in Melbourne in November 2014 and then the Grenfell Building fire in London in June 2017 that killed 72 people. Both buildings had been clad in Aluminium Composite Panels (ACP).By way of background, the Lacrosse building fire and the responsibility for that fire, is the subject of a recent decision in the Victorian Court of Appeal which in all relevant respects, endorsed the primary judgment of Judge Woodward of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). The case highlights how little was known about the fire risks associated with ACP in 2010 and 2011 when the Lacrosse building was designed as well as how this limited understanding has not precluded the liability of the design professionals and building surveyor for their role in the selection and the certification of the use of ACP in the Lacrosse building.

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