Yearly Archives: 2017

Cladding: A Troublesome Issue for Those Unable to Make a Decision


The fire that raced up the Lacrosse building in November 2014 fuelled by the combustible polyethylene composite external panelling appears no closer to a resolution after four years.
A VCAT hearing on 25 October 2017 was unable to determine who is responsible for the installation of the panels on the Lacrosse building with the owner’s corporation pursuing the builder (L U Simon), and the only agreement reached was a 30-day trial starting on 1 September 2018.





Combustible: The dangerous legacy of failed regulation in the building industry.

“You shouldn’t have a combustible product on the outside of a building of this type, so how has this been allowed to happen?” Fire officer

Across Australia, governments, councils and the building industry are grappling with a problem so large, it almost defies belief.

“It’s unquantifiable…” Senior Fire Officer

Residential buildings, hospitals, shopping centres and commercial buildings, have been built with flammable aluminium cladding, posing a potentially serious fire risk.

“As soon as I saw that on television that night, straight away I knew it was a cladding fire.” Cladding supplier

It took the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire in London, which claimed at least 80 lives, to set off alarm bells here, but as Four Corners will reveal, the danger posed by this cladding should not have come as a surprise.

“You can’t tell me that if this product, by all reports, has been used widely in the industry for 10 to 30 years, that major suppliers … didn’t know where this product was going to end up.” Fire officer

On Monday, Four Corners investigates why huge amounts of this aluminium cladding has been installed on so many of our buildings, and whether a desire to cut costs won out over caution.

“We have, if you will, a builder, a certifier and a fire engineer who are incentivized to reduce cost.” Fire Engineer

Insiders say there has been a colossal failure of regulation and oversight.

“There’s people out there that would have absolutely no idea what they’re doing and they’re installing it incorrectly, and they’re the people we compete against every day.” Builder

With access to the tests now under way on suspect aluminium cladding, we reveal the enormity of the problem facing authorities and ask who will pay to remove and replace it.

“Everyone has someone else to point the finger at. The product of deregulation and self accreditation, this process of abrogation of responsibility is that no one is responsible.” Federal politician

Combustible, reported by Debbie Whitmont and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 4th September at 8.30pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 5th September at 10.00am and Wednesday 6th at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at

Jerry-Built: A New Major Category of Building in Australia?

Planning Minister Richard Wynne and VBA CEO Prue Digby must be very concerned with their stated positions that the Lacrosse Building in Docklands that burnt in November 2014 is safe to occupy after Dubai’s sadly aptly-named Torch Tower caught fire for the second time in two years.



Can the VBA Survive?


The revolving door at the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) saw CEO Prue Digby retire amid the controversy surrounding high-rise towers in Melbourne and the horrific tragedy of the Glenfell fire in London.


Who was responsible for the Last Resort Builders Warranty Insurance?

EVENT Press Conference
LOCATION Kooyong Road, Armadale
DATE 29 September 2003
TIME 1.00pm
SUMMARY A new home warranty insurance initiative will shorten building waiting lists and provide better security to new home buyers and renovators.
Speakers: Ron Silberberg, HIA; Victorian Minister for Finance and Consumer Affairs John Lenders; Nick Kirk, Royal & SunAlliance.
REHAME CONTACT Nicholas Hayes 03 9646 6966
It’s a milestone day in terms of warranty insurance for this country and we’ve got a number of speakers who are going to outline some wonderful new moves forward on the warranty insurance front.
The very first speaker today is our managing director of HIA, Dr Ron Silberberg. Would you please welcome Ron.


Kitchener Crespin used the tools when he unleashed on a property in the suburb of Glen Iris, in southeast Melbourne — all because the owners said they would seek legal advice over his demands for more money.

Crespin had a contract for quarter-of-million dollars for work on the property and they had already paid him an additional $100,000.

Unhappy he was still asking for more money they told him they were consulting a lawyer, reported the Nine Network’s A Current Affair.

He went on a six day spree, the final day being recorded on a neighbour’s CCTV camera. They immediately called police.

When officers arrived they found him covered in dust and holding a chainsaw.

He had destroyed the renovation’s framework, cutting through beams and the floor. The entire damage bill came to $170,000.

He was charged him with six counts of criminal damage, to which he defended during a trial that went for almost two months.

Crespin was found guilty, sentenced to 250 hours of community service and ordered to pay $80,000 to the owners, but avoided a prison sentence because his wife had just given birth to twins.

The couple were too afraid to speak on camera but were represented by Phil Dwyer, president of the Builders Collective of Australia.

kitch kitchener crespin

Kitchener Crespin was found guilty of all 6 charges.

“Emotionally, these people will suffer for years to come,” Mr Dwyer told A Current Affair.

“Add to that probably a couple of hundred thousand of dollars’ worth of damage done. But add to that everything else, legal costs and so on. They’re probably facing half a million dollars.”

Crespin has been suspended by the Building Practitioners Board but Mr Dwyer wanted a more serious punishment handed to Crespin.

“How a builder, who builds things, could damage his own work so much, I don’t know,” he said.

The Glen Iris couple are not the only people who regret hiring Crespin to perform renovations.

Melissa Simpson is a single mother with two sets of twins.

After hiring Crespin, her life became even more complicated.

“He’d sloped the floor not towards the drain, but instead towards the floor,” Ms Simpson said. “Every time you had a shower, the water would go out to the hall instead of the drain.”

“He walked away and refused to come back and fix it.”

Ms Simpson took Crespin to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

“I got awarded a very small amount of money that wouldn’t be enough to fix it to comply with the building code,” she said.

Houy Ngo has also been left well-and-truly out of pocket as a result of Crespin’s dodgy renovations.

Ms Ngo paid $65,000 to have a cafe renovated.

When she criticised some of Crespin’s work, she claims he became incredibly angry.

“Always angry and mad,” Ms Ngo said. “My family very, very sad.”

Kitchener Kitch Crespin

Houy Ngo (right) paid Kitchener Crespin $65,000 for cafe renovations that did not meet building standards

Ms Ngo’s daughter, Lily, said her mother is now forced to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week to repay a loan she took out for the renovation work.

“He didn’t respect us at all,” she said. “My mum was his employer, she employed him to come here and do the renovation, but he treated her like a joke.”

“He is deceptive, cunning, a liar.”

kitchener kitch crespin

Kitchener Crespin has been suspended by the Building Practitioners Board

Mr Dwyer would have liked to see a more serious punishment handed to Crespin.

“How a builder, who builds things, could damage his own work so much, I don’t know,” he said.

“A builder’s licence is a privilege. But we seem to have builders licences that don’t mean a lot. We certainly don’t have our regulator acting on cases of this nature.”

Crespin’s registration has been suspended by the Building Practitioners Board.

Read more at 9 News