Australia’s building codes and standards need revision

More needs to be done to enforce Australia’s building codes and standards according to Associate Professor Sacha Reid whose co-authored report into apartment building defects found more than 3000 building defects in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Associate Professor Reid, from the Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management said because of the rising demand for apartments, many developments have been built quickly and may not have been appropriately managed from a regulatory perspective.

Associate Professor Sacha Reid.

“There have also been changes in how construction methods have been implemented on the construction procedure, which means that what people think they are buying into might not be the reality of what they would get.”

The report found the top three defects were building fabric cladding (40%), fire protection (13%) and water proofing (11%).

“These are new buildings that we are talking about, and the time period we’re looking at is from when the builder or the developer hands-over to the new lot owners, and then that first period up till the end of the defect liability period,” Associate Professor Reid said.

“Construction is about time, cost and quality — and it’s perceived to be cheaper to do it quickly (with hand-over defects) than to do it right the first time.

“And the pace that buildings are going up. They’re going up one floor per week, or sometimes quicker if the construction is behind schedule. Yet, concrete needs to cure for a certain time, and that might not be the best building practice.

“Waterproofing needs to be installed correctly to start with and then it needs time to cure, and there are different ratings of the membrane as well. So, you have to use the right membrane in the right location.”

Associate Professor Reid cautioned people considering buying off the plan to analyse developer’s contracts and conduct due diligence checks on the developer and the builder’s past projects for defect issues.

“One of the key things is people don’t do appropriate searches of the Body Corporate records when purchasing if they are purchasing into an existing development. So they don’t know what they are buying, therefore they don’t know what they are buying into.

“The Body Corporate records highlight and detail all of this communication and all of the issues that may be taking place. But because that adds to the conveyancing costs for that type of purchase many people don’t do it and they go with cut-price conveyancing.

“I would be hesitant to buy anything after 2000. As any building that was built prior to 2000 has a lot higher standard or quality, particularly in Queensland.”

An Examination of Building Defects in Residential Multi-owned Properties was co-authored by Dr Nicole Johnston from Deakin University and Associate Professor Sacha Reid.

Read more: ‘An Examination of Building Defects in Residential Multi-owned Properties’