Defects may be inherent to the structure of the building or caused due to wear and tear over time. Here are some common building defects to watch out for in strata buildings.
Living in a strata property has its perks – you have dedicated and qualified professionals to take care of maintenance and repairs of common property. If your building has defects from the outset, it can weigh heavily on your pockets and peace of mind. Let’s discuss some of the typical residential building defects you should look out for in your strata property.
Types of building defects
1. Design flaws
Building structure and design is the first and most obvious aspect of a building. Some building issues such as cracks in the walls, chipped paint, roofing and tiling fixtures, etc. may be easily fixed.
Flaws in the foundational structures such as floors, walls, roof, pillars, elevators, etc., can however affect the very stability of the building. Accidents can also happen if your building has inferior building materials or is not compliant with regulatory standards. Such problems may be deeper and harder to fix without tearing down the building entirely.
In January 2018, the NSW government introduced the Strata Building Bond and Inspections Scheme as part of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015. The law states that property developers must allocate two per cent of the building contract price to cover any defects found in the building after completion. The owners corporation can use these funds to correct any building defects as early as possible.
2. Plumbing and drainage
In multi-storied buildings, often the plumbing and drainage system is shared by multiple units and under common property. An issue in one part of the building can invariably affect other areas.
If you find plumbing leaks, overflowing gutters and related drainage problems in your strata building, make sure to get it professionally checked to see what the problem is, where it is located and how it impacts you and your neighbours.
All common and shared fixtures are under strata purview. So, they will be maintained and paid for by your strata management. However, if the problem lies inside your privately-owned property such as a leaking shower or faulty faucet, it is likely you will need to fix them on your own dime.
In October 2018, NSW made changes to drainage and plumbing laws. Make sure your strata managed property is compliant with these updates.
3. Roof damage
Another common building defect is when issues arise with roofing. Roofs are prone to all kinds of damage over time. They can be affected by bad weather, falling trees, or faulty design and negligence.
Often, damaged roofs can lead to other larger problems within the building. If your building is new, but your roof is causing you trouble, chances are it has design and structural problems. Either way, it is important to stay on top of the problem by carrying out regular inspections and timely repairs.
Like plumbing and drainage systems, your strata management will cover damaged roofing that is shared by multiple units or are common property.
4. Insulation and cladding
Recently, there have been legislative updates in the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland regarding the ban on the use of Aluminium Composite Panels (ACP) and other metal panels as cladding for insulation because they could cause fires in buildings.
NSW requires all buildings occupied before 22 October 2018 to be registered online by 22 February 2019 and all new buildings to be registered within four months of occupation. Queensland calls for strata committees to register building details on behalf of building owners and provide a completed cladding checklist by 29 March 2019.
In Victoria, the government is reinforcing the seriousness of this issue across the state while also offering a tripartite loan to help building owners who need to demolish their buildings for cladding compliance.
5. Electrical wiring and fire safety
Faulty wiring poses a grave risk for building safety. They can cause freak fires from short circuits. If you see any exposed wires, malfunctioning plug points or power trips in your building, have them immediately inspected and replaced.
Make sure your building has functional, visible and adequate number of fire extinguishers, fire alarms and signage. While buying electrical appliances for your home, ensure they meet Australian standards or are star-rated for safety and energy saving.
Dealing with common building defects as they occur is the best way to avoid serious accidents, emergency evacuations and in the worst-case scenario loss of life and property. The recent Opal Tower incident in Sydney has Australian property owners on edge while state laws are yet to be fine-tuned around building compliance.
Make sure to check with your property’s developers, builders, and strata managers if you have any questions about building defects, building dispute resolution, maintenance or inspections. Stay updated on the state legislation, know your rights and have insurance cover for your building. Your property is your asset as well as your responsibility and staying vigilant and compliant at all times is key to safe and content apartment living.
The information provided is a general guide only and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. The company disclaims all responsibly and liability for any expenses, losses, damages and costs which might be incurred as a result of the information provided by the company.