Combustible Building Cladding Litigation
The cost to rectify combustible cladding in buildings moves to litigation.
The horrific Grenfell fire in London and several building façade fires in Australia resulted in a number of cases in Court to determine which party (or parties) is responsible for the cost of rectifying the use of combustible building cladding. The stakes are high, with the cost to rectify combustible cladding in buildings measured in the $millions on even modest scale buildings. Stakeholders involved are numerous, inclusive of head contractors, designers, engineers, certifiers, architects, surveyors, installers, insurers and product manufacturers.
A recent article published in the Australian Financial Review¹ provides a salient example, with the head contractor seeking to claim $8m from the building certifier for its cost of recladding the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. Also joined in this case before the Victorian Supreme Court are the architects, fire engineer and façade installation contractor. The basis of this claim is that the design documentation included the use of combustible material and for failing to make the head contractor aware that the cladding did not comply with the Building Code.
Building information submitted as evidence
The fine detail of a myriad of communications between the parties will be crucial in assisting the Court to allocate culpability. For a head contractor with so many different teams, people and organisations involved in a project, critical communications such as emails can easily be deleted or incorrectly filed – mistakes that can prove costly. Keeping track of approvals, who has seen what email, and what task has or hasn’t been actioned is time-consuming and subject to manual error.
Quality building information reduces costs to rectify combustible cladding
This is where the value of an online project collaboration system becomes particularly apparent. All manner of project-wide documents and communications can be efficiently captured, saved, time & date stamped, searched and reported on. This can encompass drawings, specifications, design reports, meeting minutes, emails, product data sheets, BIM files, design reviews, commissioning results, ITPs, warranties, RFI’s, variations, defect lists, asset registers, contracts etc.
¹Michael Bleby – Cladding’s Brick in the Wall for Building Policy, Australian Financial Review July 16th 2018