Common Apartment Building defects

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Apartment Building defect reports – insights and tips

In 2019 there were a few useful industry reports covering common defects in strata property. This can help prospective buyers focus on likely trouble spots as part of their research before they purchase an apartment.

According to Mozo’s Building Defects Report 2019 based on a survey of 1,222 recent property buyers across the country, the most common apartment defects were:

  • Defective plumbing (21% respondents)
  • Tiling (27% respondents)
  • Cracking walls (39% respondents)
  • Water penetration from outside (30% respondents)
  • Guttering faults (19% respondents)
  • Inappropriately installed items (19% respondents)

To deal with these defects, 60 per cent of apartment owners facing defects had to contribute to a defects sinking fund and 24 per cent were forced to pay special levies to fund the repairs. The average apartment defect bill was $6,434 and Mozo found 4 per cent of owners had to pay above $50,000. With 670,197 apartments completed in the past 10 years, Mozo estimates apartment buyers have had to pay out $4.3 billion on repairs.

Another recent study by Deakin and Griffith Universities looking at 212 building defect reports from NSW, QLD and VIC found that building fabric and cladding were the most common problems followed by fire protection, waterproofing, roof and rainwater disposal and structural faults.

CFMEU’s report painted a similar picture when it comes to the issue of combustible cladding with 1411 apartments in New South Wales affected, 1069 in Victoria and 570 in Queensland. The rest of the Aussie states have not been spared, with South Australia having 69 apartments with combustible cladding and Western Australia 154 The NSW government’s Cladding Taskforce, which has been established to help address fire safety risks in relation to cladding, reported 435 buildings across the state present a high risk.

Key tips

Before you buy:

If buying off the plan:

  • Research the developer and builder
  • Engage your own consultant to check critical stages of the development
  • Run a body corporate records search on an existing apartment to check the minutes for any issues raised around building defects
  • Get an independent building inspection done on the property when completed.

After you buy:

  • Notify your apartment’s strata manager of any defects as soon as they occur
  • Get an independent assessment of any defects
  • Seek remediation work and/or costs from the developer
  • Don’t delay making a claim as builders warranty has fixed timeframe in each state and territory
  • If your builder goes into liquidation and you are still facing repair costs make sure you disclose your debt to the administrator as soon as possible.

What protection do buyers have?

Depending on which state or territory you have purchased your property different warranties apply:

  • In NSW major defects are covered for six years and all other defects for two years
  • In Victoria structural defects are covered for six years and non-structural defects for two years
  • In Western Australia defects are covered for six years following the building’s completion
  • In South Australia claims can usually be made up to five years following the building’s completion
  • In Queensland work is covered under home warranty insurance for 6 years and 6 months but after you lodge an application for assistance under the scheme strict timeframes apply. Owners have 3 months to lodge a complaint for structural defects and 7 months for non-structural defects
  • In the Northern Territory you can claim for defective building work for up to 10 years. However, issues that sit outside the National Construction Code such as poor workmanship and minor cracks are not covered
  • In Tasmania statutory warranties last for six years from the building’s completion

 

Read the Mozo report here

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