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Queensland homeowners are being urged to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to dealing with defective construction work.
Archers the Strata Professionals partner Grant Mifsud has issued a warning to apartment building owners and managers in Queensland strata schemes, saying they need to be wary of time limitations to lodge complaints if they suspect there has been defective construction work on their property.
Despite the caution advised to Queenslanders, according to Mr Mifsud, defects have been an ongoing issue in many strata schemes nationwide.
“As we have seen this year with the structural issues affecting apartment buildings in Sydney and Melbourne, defective construction work is a major issue for apartment owners and building managers and the cause of considerable stress,” he said.
Mr Mifsud acknowledged that the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) is in place to assess complaints of defective work, which he noted can include structural problems or leaks causing health and safety issues.
The body corporate can submit a complaint to the QBCC within six years and six months from when the building work is completed and within 12 months of noticing the defect, however as Mr Mifsud explained, such a complaint process can sometimes be “very restrictive, particularly with accurate timing of complaint lodgement”.
“If a complaint is not lodged in time, the QBCC may refuse to provide coverage under the home warranty insurance scheme and a direction to rectify to the builder, even where it would otherwise have been available if lodged in time,” he explained.
“Therefore, if a strata scheme notices a defect, especially a structural defect, it is critical that the complaint is lodged well in advance of the deadline, which starts again after any defect repairs have been completed.”
Mr Mifsud said depending on the severity and complexity of the defect, a strata committee may consider obtaining an independent professional defect report to support the defect complaints that may otherwise be disputed or dismissed if not properly substantiated.
“The engagement of a professional to not only prepare a report but to also lodge the complaint can assist with taking the emotion out of the issue that can be frustrating for unit owners that just want their homes to be fixed and not leak,” he said.
Furthermore, Mr Mifsud noted there are certain limitations on the types of buildings QBCC can rule on under the home warranty insurance scheme. For example, for domestic building works carried out on buildings the scheme says the building in question must be “no more than three storeys” high.