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Builders respond to cladding insurance crisis

Construction industry leaders have met in Canberra to urge all levels of government to address the building certifier insurance crisis which has the potential to halt construction activity.

High profile fires, such as the Grenfell fire in the UK and the Spencer Street fire in Melbourne this year, have elevated risk ratings on cladding affected buildings.

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said this has led to insurers declining to provide professional indemnity insurance offering it with unacceptable exclusions or asking for unaffordable premium increases for building certifier professional indemnity renewals.

“As a result, certifiers who are needed to sign-off new buildings are being forced to close up shop,” Wawn said.

“The problem is already causing delays to building projects across the country and will only get worse as more insurers withdraw from the market.

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“Up to 30 per cent of insurance renewals for building certifiers and surveyors may not be renewed as early as July and construction activity will grind to a halt if a solution is not found urgently.”

Master Builders Australia is calling on federal, state and local governments to establish a national pool of qualified engineers to sign off high-risk components.

It is also calling for a working group to be set up to deliver options within six months to fund the rectification of existing buildings with the combustible cladding.

State governments have also been urged to allow temporary license exclusions for combustible cladding, specific to aluminium composite panels and expanded polystyrene.

“Master Builders around the country are also calling for governments to speed up implementation of recommendations in the Shergold-Weir Building Confidence report to improve access to and the reliability of regulatory requirements for the building and construction sector,” Wawn said.

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