Representatives of Master Builders Associations from across Australia met recently in Canberra to highlight their concerns about the current building certifier insurance crisis affecting the construction industry.

The leaders urged the Federal, State and Territory Governments to act immediately to address the problem that can potentially bring building and construction activity to a standstill.

Voicing the concerns of various Master Builders Associations on the issue, Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn says that up to 30 percent of insurance renewals for building certifiers and surveyors may not be renewed as early as July. If a solution is not found urgently, construction activity could grind to a halt, she said.

According to Wawn, the increasing number of fires around the world including the Grenfell incident in the UK has resulted in insurers elevating risk ratings on cladding affected buildings. Insurers are declining to provide professional indemnity insurance, offering it with unacceptable exclusions or asking for unaffordable premium rates for building certifier professional indemnity renewals. As a result, certifiers who are needed to sign-off on new buildings are being forced to close shop, she added.

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

“We need all governments to come together now to manage what has become a risk for the whole industry caused by the use of combustible cladding on some buildings,” Wawn said.

The Master Builders Australia has listed out several actions to avert the crisis. These include establishing a national pool of qualified engineers to sign off high risk components; and setting up a working group to deliver options within six months for funding the rectification of existing buildings with combustible cladding.

Additionally, state governments must allow for temporary licence exclusions for combustible cladding, specific to aluminium composite panels and expanded polystyrene.

Master Builders had written to Building Ministers in April seeking action ahead of the July deadline, says Wawn.

“Master Builders around the country are also calling for governments to speed up implementation of recommendations in the Shergold-Weir Building Confidence report,” Wawn concluded.