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Demolishing 800 Mr Fluffy homes in three years 'ambitious' but possible

Demolishing 800 Mr Fluffy homes in three years 'ambitious' but possible

31 August 2015 Megan Doherty

Demolishing 800 Mr Fluffy homes in three years was "ambitious" but still possible, the head of the Asbestos Response Taskforce said on Friday as contractors started considering tendering for the demolition work across Canberra.

For the deadline to be met, an average of about five homes would have to be levelled per week for the next three years.

The demolition work is expected to start later this year, with interest from firms as far afield as Queensland and Western Australia.

About 50 contractors from the ACT and interstate inspected three Mr Fluffy homes in Canberra on Friday to help them decide if they will tender for the demolition work and to give them an idea of pricing for the tender.

In a two-step process, the contractors will first have to tender to be accepted onto an industry panel and then once they are on the panel, tender to demolish bundles of Mr Fluffy homes – about 25 to 30 at a time – on a fixed-price contract.

The process will be the one used for all 1014 properties participating in the buy-back program, with the taskforce estimating 800 of the homes could be razed within three years in the bulk of the work.

As owners can stay in their Mr Fluffy homes until mid-2020, it will be another five years until the final properties are demolished.

In separate work, the two companies involved in the pilot demolition work – Manteena and Shaw – will also demolish 38 properties, already identified, in the next six months.

Taskforce head Andrew Kefford said on Friday the tenders for the broader demolition program would be decided not only on price but also the ability to remove the loose-fill asbestos safely.

"Price ,of course, is an important consideration," Mr Kefford said.

"This is a program that will end up costing hundreds of millions of dollars but there is a balance to be struck. But in terms of the instructions from the territory government, safety first and quickly second."

The contractors on Friday inspected two Mr Fluffy homes in Garran and one in Hughes to get an idea of the logistics of the work and what price they should put on it.

The tender to establish a panel of head contractors to carry out the demolition program closes on September 1. The demolition program will start some time after that.

The first five homes demolished in the pilot program took three weeks to complete – starting on July 6 and finishing on July 27.

A spokeswoman for the taskforce said under the new arrangement, multiple demolitions would be happening across the city, speeding up the process.

As of Friday, the taskforce owned 672 Mr Fluffy properties. A total of 982 offers had been made to owners to purchase properties through the buy-back scheme and 886 offers had been accepted, totalling more than $630 million.

Mr Kefford said by the end of August all owners who had exchanged or surrendered properties through the buyback program would receive information providing an indicative six-month window in which their property would be demolished in the coming years.

"We've been talking closely with the industry now for some time. What we're hearing from those consultations is, yes, 800 is ambitious in three years but also possible but really this is about beginning to lock in that capacity to get through that task," he said.

Manteena operations manager Rod Mitton said the Canberra firm would tender to be on the panel and to do the broader program of demolitions.

He said completing 800 homes in three years was possible but it depended "on the appetite of the taskforce on how quickly they want that to happen".

Mr Mitton said initially it was difficult to get subcontractors interested in the Mr Fluffy demolition but that had changed as the industry had become more aware of the process.

"I'm finding I'm getting subcontractors knocking at my door every day looking at opportunities to be involved in the program," he said.

"It's ambitious but equally after the bushfires, everyone was concerned about the capacity of our industry to respond to that crisis and I think our industry did and I think we can again."

Mr Mitton said rain was the biggest cause of delay during the demolition pilot with work unable to be done outside because of the potential for run-off.

Mr Kefford said the demolition program would need help from outside the ACT.

"There will continue to be opportunities for the local firms to be involved but we've always said to get through the demolition task in the time we need to get it done is going to involve bringing in additional capacity from elsewhere in the country," he said.



14 August 2015