Owners at St Kilda apartment block set to pay $2.6m to fix water-damaged cladding

A total of 36 owners at an apartment block in Melbourne’s southeast have to cough up more than $2.6 million to replace the water-damaged cladding, an article from The Age reported. This is after years of leaks and water ingress that have left the St. Kilda apartment block severely damaged.

The water damage was brought in part by the improper installation of cement sheet cladding when it was developed two decades ago, according to an engineering and building report conducted for the residents. Some of the panels even fell off the façade. Unfortunately, the residents are expected to foot the multi-million-dollar bill despite the report’s findings.

While the Andres government announced a $600 million fund to remove flammable cladding, the Kilda apartment building cannot be covered by the fund as the panels are not flammable. To compound the issue, residents cannot pursue legal action either, due to the expiration of the builders’ warranty insurance and the statute of limitations.

The leaks started appearing in 2012. In 2014, the roof was patched but the leaking reappeared in 2015. The leaks have been constant since then. Trent, one of the residents, was forced to rent an apartment down the road while still paying his mortgage when his St Kilda apartment was gutted. While some of the rent has been covered by owners’ corporation, much of it he must pay out of his own pocket.

Reymon Makkar, chair of the owners’ corporation, said the insurance premiums for the building had quadrupled this year.

“We have spent thousands on all the investigations, lawyers, inspections, consultants, all of that. Before we even selected a builder, we spent $56,000. Not to mention the hours everyone has put in,” he said.

He believes the industry needs to be better regulated, with greater protections for homeowners when a property is out of warranty.

Waterproofing issues are often at the heart of many building defects in Australia. The team at Industry Best Construction are advocates for industry-standard waterproofing practices. It’s our belief that problems like this should be addressed through proper education and training of construction industry professions.

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