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NSW’s strata association is stressing the importance of all sides working together when defects are detected in multi-unit dwellings..
As the issue of building defects in apartment blocks once again surfaces in the headlines, Stephen Brell, president of the Strata Community Association (NSW), has highlighted the stressors placed on all sides when serious building issues come to the fore.
“Building is not a precise discipline and even the most highly-rated, award-winning builder is likely to experience minor defects in the completion and handover of a new residential complex,” the housing expert acknowledged.
Meanwhile, “property is arguably one of the greatest assets that most people hold or will invest in,” he said, underlining the magnitude of the issue when owners are faced with problems in their home or investment property.
That’s why Mr Brell is emphasising the need for “open and honest communication between owners, strata managers, engineers and developers to ensure successful management and remediation of building defects in a post-project handover”.
Because as he made clear, while there’s been some headway in strengthening regulation of the industry, more needs to be done.
“In NSW the problem of building defects is widespread with research conducted between SCA (NSW) with the Office of the Building Commissioner finding one-third (39 per cent) of new strata buildings have serious defects, representing an average cost of approximately $331,829 per building, according to the survey of 1,400 strata managers,” he noted.
As for the complex task of guiding owners through defect remediation, that often falls to the strata manager, making these issues a primary concern for his industry.
Most commonly, he noted, they’re dealing with failures in waterproofing, fire safety systems, structural defects, enclosure failures, issues with key services and non-compliant cladding.
And they also must navigate the many reasons why defect remediation can face long-term delays.
“The most common barriers to resolving defects were sourcing funds, lack of awareness about rights and responsibilities, and disagreement amongst the owner’s corporation on the approach that should be taken,” he noted.
Steps are currently being taken to clean up the industry in NSW, such as with the introduction of a developer rating tool, iCIRT, which has been developed by the Office of the Building Commissioner.
That agency is also encouraging apartment owners affected by defects to bring the office into the conversation so that it might assist in efficiently and cost-effectively addressing the concern.
Mr Brell stressed that at the end of the day, it was important that apartment buyers had peace of mind that their purchase wouldn’t lead them down a path of lengthy legal disputes or facing the prospect of owning an uninhabitable home.
“Everyone deserves a safe place to live and if a building does have defects, residents and owners should feel reassured that they will be resolved quickly and effectively,” he said.
Remediation is the act of removing contaminated wastes or hazardous materials from a construction site.