This question about fire safety regulations and standards has been answered by Tony Johnson, Stratarama.
Question: My building inspection revealed that a party wall is lacking in the ceiling space between my unit and the neighbouring unit. According to my building inspector, this is not up to current fire safety regulations and standards.
I have recently moved into a block of units in SA and have two Questions:
My building inspection revealed that a party wall is lacking in the ceiling space between my unit and the neighbouring unit. According to my building inspector, this is not up to current fire safety regulations and standards.
I asked this to be repaired and was essentially ‘fobbed off’ by the strata employee who simply said: “no buildings of this age are up to regulation standards”. I was concerned about liability issues so I made direct inquiries with the Strata with insurance providers.
They confirmed that in the event of fire damage spreading from one unit to another, given we are aware of the lack of the regulation party wall, we may not be insured.
Does confirmation of this as a liability issue legally require the party wall to be installed with Strata funds or will I have to pay for it myself?
Answer: It would be in the groups best interests to seek the opinion of the Master Builders Association to clarify whether the building should be brought up to today’s Building Regulations.
Thank you for your queries in relation to maintenance and regulation standards.
A definitive response on whether or not your Insurer will cover the group in relation to a claim resulting from Fire would be a question to direct at your specific Insurer, and I would propose that you ask them to commit to their response in writing. The insurer will likely have a strong idea of how this building will be built based on the age of the site, however it is always best to ensure that they are familiar with the site and have these sort of details on record so that they can clearly define for your group any personal risk or possible denial of claims, and can include this in their quotation process. There is a responsibility incumbent on the group to ensure that the Strata takes reasonable steps protects all of its Members.
Specifically, you have asked about the responsibility of the Firewall. Firewalls would be the responsibility of the Strata to maintain (when in place). Due to the age of the site, there was likely no requirement at the time, to erect these (or if erected, not to today’s standards). When coming to the erection of a new wall (retrofitting), this would be something to be placed on an Agenda for an AGM or EGM of the group. Members will then need to discuss whether to erect these walls and the costs associated with the same.
I believe that it would be in the groups best interests to seek the opinion of the Master Builders Association (or similar) to clarify whether the building (and/ or what components) should be brought up to today’s Building Regulations.
This post appears in Strata News #207.
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.