Many at-risk apartment buildings in Victoria may have already received a Building Notice from their local council dictating that the cladding on their building is non-compliant with the building standards. in other words, the cladding is combustible.
Some of these building notices may have progressed to Building Orders, and others may have audits and investigations ordered and scheduled for their buildings.
So, what exactly is the difference between a Building Notice and Building Order, and what does receiving either of these documents mean for your building?
What is a Building Notice?
A building notice is a formal notice addressed to the owner of a building that informs them that an aspect of aspects of their building is non-compliant with the building standards – which are outlined in the building act 1993 (Vic)
Building notices are the first stage of local councils’ enforcement process for non-compliant or dangerous buildings.
What is in a building notice?
A building notice will typically include the following:
- Identifying the non-compliant and/or safety issues or aspects of a property or building;
- A Request for the building owner/s to respond to the order cause by either:
- Justifying why the identified compliance and safety issues are not issues.
- Rectifying the compliance and safety issues.
How to respond to a building notice
If you receive a Building Notice, it is strongly recommended that you seek the appropriate legal and expert (e.g. engineering, architectural, etc) advice on the contents of the Building Notice. The right advice means you can identify your options, get clarity on your prospects and respond to the notice accordingly.
What is the purpose of a building notice?
The purpose of the Building Notice is to prompt the building owners and local council to engage in dialogue to resolve the building’s compliance and safety issues. If you fail or refuse to refuse to respond to the Building Notice in time, the council is entitled to escalate the matter and issue a Building Order.
What is a Building Order?
A Building Order is a formal direction from Council to address the compliance and safety issues in the relevant building.
What is in a building order?
A Building Order can direct the occupants and owners of the building to:
- Evacuate the building.
- Prohibit entry and occupation of the building.
- Carry out building, rectification and/or protections works on the building.
- Conduct investigations and destructive testing of the building and its materials and components.
How to respond to a building order
A failure or refusal to comply with a Building Order is a serious issue and may result in severe consequences for building owners, such as:
- Prosecution because of a failure or refusal to comply with a governmental direction; or
- Civil litigation for:
- An order compelling building owners to pay for rectification of the safety and compliance issues; or
- Reimbursement of council’s costs for conducting the rectifications.
What action do I need to take if I have received a Building Notice or Building Order?
If you have received a Building Notice or Building Order, it is strongly recommended that you give it due and timely attention. You immediately seek the appropriate legal and professional advice.
If you have been issued a Building Notice or Building Order, our construction law team can help. Our expert construction lawyers will ensure you have an informed response that is in your best interest. For further assistance, get in contact with us today.
The contents of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. If this article pertains to any matters you or your organisation may have, it is essential that you seek legal and relevant professional advice.