A national survey on strata-titled property conducted by Griffith University has found that building defects and construction problems are the biggest concern for apartment owners in Australia – an issue survey author Professor Christopher Guilding says needs government attention.

The report, Inquiry Into Key Challenges In Australian Strata Title, shared with Domain in May, revealed that apartment owners who participated in the qualitative survey conducted across Australia claim that poor building quality and defects in the strata sector are “endemic”.

“It needs to be recognised that defects are the issue (not quality),”one owner said, Domain reports.

“The problems are often basic things like leaks into living areas, render and paint falling off after year 1 and imported – cheaper and not Australian Standard-compliant – glass imploding for unexplained reasons, and potentially causing personal death or injury.”

Another survey participant said building defects plaguing Class A and B developments results in part “from poor education and training structures in the building industry”:

“So many areas of construction (wet area sealing membranes, gyprock) are performed by people without formal training or qualification. Inspection regimes are not actually designed to discover any but the most egregious faults.”

Other reasons cited include unqualified builders and a move to privately certified buildings, while weak consumer protection and regulation makes it difficult for owners to seek and secure redress. In New South Wales, for instance, the Home Building Amendment Act passed earlier this year shortened the time limits for statutory claims to just two years unless “major defects” are in question. However, defects are often not recognised in the early years of occupation.

“I get a sense these problems are worse in Australia than overseas, so we need an inquiry to look into what's happening elsewhere in the world that means they're not getting this kind of volume of building defects,” Professor Guilding told Domain.

"If the building industry aren't getting it right the first time here, then the defects are very costly to rectify later, and it leads to a lot of problems for such a long period of time."

Inquiry Into Key Challenges In Australian Strata Title will be released in September, during the launch of Griffith University’s biennial national conference, Strata and Community Title in Australia for the 21st Century. 

Lead image: Apartments under construction. In a national survey, apartment owners have said their number one concern is building defects. Photo: Jonathan Carroll. Source: new.domain.com.au