Who does what when it comes to strata property building defects
Following the Opal Tower incident, strata properties have come under the scanner for building compliance and safety. We understand you may have questions about who does what when it comes to building defects.
In 2015, Engineers Australia’s findings highlighted that 85 per cent of strata units were defective on completion and insurance reports added that this raises repair costs by an additional 27 per cent. Many multi-storied strata buildings have sprung up quickly over the last few years and compliance has taken a back seat compared to profit making. So, experts claim that building defects are bound to happen.
Strata properties have common areas with multiple owners sharing the stakes. So, they tend to be the hardest hit when building defects come to light.
Therefore, even as the government tightens regulations, the onus lies on different players within the building and construction industry, such as developers, building inspectors and certifiers, strata professionals and the owners corporation to work together in order to prevent and solve problems arising from building defects.
The onus on property owners:
As the property owner, your property is your asset and responsibility. So, here are a few pointers to consider:
- Be aware of the regulatory environment of your state, as well as your obligations regarding compliance and safety
- Keep track of important dates regarding compliance requirements such as registrations, report submissions, payments, and stay updated regarding state legislation changes
- Conduct regular maintenance checks for buildings defects with your owners corporation and make timely repairs wherever necessary
- Make sure to keep your property and renovation records as well as insurance documents safe and handy in case of emergencies from building defects
- Connect with insurance providers to understand how the type of building defects and other factors may affect your insurance cover
- Reach out to developers in time to highlight building defects within the statutory warranty period
- If the developer fails to respond to claims and complaints, you can take the help of NSW Fair Trading to resolve disputes
The onus on developers:
The present legal system provides developers with a wide berth regarding control over the inspection and certification process – but that is under scrutiny currently. As per the current legislation in New South Wales:
- Developers are required to set aside 2% of the projects costs as bond to cover any possible defects found in the building after it is completed
- They should appoint building inspectors and surveyors to inspect and provide reports. They must ensure the inspectors have no conflict of interest in the building project.
- They should be compliant with the Australian safety standards and be accountable for any planning, design and compliance lapses. No matter how quickly they plan to complete their building projects, the safety of these buildings and their ability to meet Australian safety standards should never be compromised.
- Under the NSW statutory warranty period, builders and developers must respond to claims promptly and address any complaints from property owners. If found responsible, they should take care of any costs for residents’ immediate displacement to ensure their safety and provide compensation for repairs as quickly as possible.
If you’re a Victoria and Queensland property owner, you may be interested in how your state legislation is poised to tackle building defects. In another recent article, we’ve detailed some of the steps you can take to prevent unexpected costs from building defects and protect your strata property.