ACT News

First valuations of Mr Fluffy asbestos homes begin

The Mr Fluffy home valuations are underway, with an ambitious target of getting through as many as 800 valuations, two per home, by Christmas.

An advertisement by Dirk Jansen, aka Mr Fluffy, placed in The Canberra Times in 1968.
An advertisement by Dirk Jansen, aka Mr Fluffy, placed in The Canberra Times in 1968. Photo: Canberra Times

The first valuation of a Fluffy home was delivered to officials this week, with plans to get through as many as 800 valuations - two for each of 400 homes - by Christmas.

Thew news came as Asbestos Taskforce head Andrew Kefford confirmed the list of 1021 Mr Fluffy homes would be made public in the first half of 2015, news likely to unsettle many homeowners who have argued strongly to keep their addresses private.

Mr Kefford said the list would be tabled in the ACT Assembly, allowing it to be referred to in other legislation and simplifying the process for stamp duty waivers and for homeowners to be included in the planned health study. The release was planned for early 2015 to continue to respect the privacy of families and give them a  chance to respond to the buy-back offer.

In its buy-back offer, the taskforce will take the midpoint of two valuations, with more than 200 valuations already underway.

Australian Property Institute president Paul Powderly, who is overseeing the valuations, said if the two valuations were significantly different, a third would be sought. The tolerance was about 5 per cent ($30,000 on a $600,000 house) for most homes, with a higher tolerance, up to 10 per cent, in more complicated cases. The government is at pains to urge homeowners not to make any quick fixes to their homes before the valuations, with valuers disregarding work done since October 28, the date on which the scheme was announced. 

Homeowners are free to get their own professional valuation as well, which can be thrown into the mix. But if they go down that route, they will have to pay not only for their private valuation, but a $990 fee for a "presidential determination" of the value, which will be final.

To date, 521 owners have signed up for valuations.

Also this week, ACT Worksafe met with the removalists' peak group after concerns from homeowners that removal companies would refuse to pack and move their gear. The agency reassured removalists that it was safe to move contents from the Fluffy homes, but they were told not to go into the subfloor or ceiling, and not to go into half-renovated homes. They were also advised to send their workers to an asbestos awareness course, and were advised to wear a P2 mask for areas in homes where contamination had been found. But Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe confirmed neither would be compulsory.

In another development this week, Mr Kefford has intervened to help owners unable to get a second mortgage while they are still paying a mortgage on their Fluffy home. Chief Minister Katy Gallagher hopes to start buying homes from Monday, December 8, after an appropriation bill passes the Assembly, but in the meantime people are trying to buy new homes.

Mr Kefford said homeowners had found some banks unwilling to give them a second mortgage for a new home without extra guarantees and mortgage insurance, with their current home being valued at zero by banks. So he was writing to a "letter of comfort" to homeowners this week setting out the unconditional offer from the government to buy the house at market value. He believed, after speaking with the National Australia Bank, that the letter would satisfy banks and persuade them to lend on a second mortgage.