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A step-by-step guide has been developed to help prospective buyers and current strata property owners navigate the process of identifying, documenting, reporting and rectifying building defects in apartment buildings.
Researchers from UNSW Sydney’s City Futures Research Centre and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have teamed up to develop a consumer-friendly guide to assist property buyers, owners and strata managers navigate the often-complex process of identifying and rectifying building defects.
The information guide, which complements NSW government’s goal to deliver better-quality builds for the future, not only helps strata property owners worried about defects in their apartment buildings, but it also provides prospective purchasers with a range of information to help them make a more informed decision.
“It’s useful for buyers potentially. There is a bit of information there if you’re looking to buy into strata, how to find out what’s happening with the building,” said Dr Laura Crommelin, senior lecturer at UNSW City Futures Research Centre.
“It’s a really simple web interface. It’s what’s called a decision tree that asks you a number of quite simple questions.
“It will help owners to know what they should be thinking about, who they should be talking to, what sort of risks they should be looking at, as well as how to find out who is responsible for existing building defects. It can be hard for owners to find all the information they need to deal with defects; this guide is a tool that helps buyers and owners navigate that information asymmetry,” Dr Crommelin noted.
The new guide, made up of 13 factsheets, complements the suite of reforms the NSW government has already introduced to the multibillion-dollar apartment building sector in the aftermath of Opal Tower.
“It’s essential that we build better buildings in future, and that we also support owners and residents in buildings that already have defect problems or will find they have issues in the years ahead. Defects can take time to become apparent, and owners need to be proactive in dealing with them,” Dr Crommelin said.
Also commenting on the guide’s launch, Martin Loosemore, professor of construction management at UTS, said that apartment building defects are expected to become a bigger concern in the future.
“Parts of the industry have been worried about building defects for some time before Opal Tower put it on the political map,” Professor Loosemore said.
NSW’s peak strata industry body, the Strata Community Association (SCA), has applauded the guide’s release, calling it a potential “game changer”.
“With the state’s reforms and the Building Commissioner reshaping construction quality, this guide complements the retrospective effort of the strata industry in educating managers and assists consumers to deal with the practical realities of defects,” said SCA NSW president Chris Duggan.
“We are honoured to have helped fund and be associated with the development of the guide, as it will have important implications for the future of the strata industry.”
The guide can be accessed here.