Sea-change block blitz as commissioner heads north


Apartment blocks in Tweed Heads - just a general picture, none of them have defects ... probably.

Sea-changing apartment buyers tempted out of Sydney by the charms of NSW’s north coast – or driven out by fears of future lockdowns – may feel slightly more secure this week, knowing that unit blocks under construction in northern NSW have felt the laser-like scrutiny of Building Commissioner David Chandler

Projects in Tweed Heads, Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour with “serious structural defects” would have been identified when they received a visit from the NSW Building Commissioner’s team to ensure they were being “constructed to the highest standards of compliance and safety.”

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said in a press release last week that 10 developments per month were being targeted in the state, in an effort to stamp out serious defects.

“In the past year more than 100 developments have been audited by the NSW Government and this work we are doing will ensure that developments in regional NSW are built to the highest standards in the country,” Mr Anderson said.

“We know that higher density developments are increasingly being built in regional areas as people look to relocate from the major cities for a better quality of life. That is why we are inspecting these developments in Tweed Heads, Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour to ensure they are up to scratch.

“NSW Government inspectors will carry out work to detect serious defects including problems relating to structure, water proofing, flammable cladding, fire safety systems, building enclosures and key services, to ensure consumers are protected when entering the property market.”

Fair Trading says NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler will attend around 20 percent of all audits to “observe where improvements can be made”.

“The NSW Government is making it a priority to get on site at regional developments to conduct compliance audits,” Mr Chandler said.

“Depending on findings from the inspections, developers will either be given the go ahead to continue work or we will have the option to issue a range of orders, such as Stop Work or Building Work Rectification Orders, so serious structural defects are addressed before unknowing consumers make the largest investment of their lives.

“Our priority is to engage with industry to raise standards by mentoring developers, builders, designers and certifiers rather than just being a cop on the beat.”

Fair Trading says, metropolitan and regional developments selected for inspection “are chosen using powerful new risk rating tools developed by the NSW Government.”

What they mean is, they note  the developers, engineers, builders, certifiers and architects who’ve been reported multiple times for bad work in the past and if too many of them are involved in the one project, they swoop in.

It’s a bit like Tripadvisor for apartment block projects – it’s not rocket science but it is damned effective – although it is perhaps not being conducted in quite as much detail as originally intended.

An editing comment accidentally left on a press release sent out this week reveals a suggestion to tone down the notion that they were examining “serious defects in building elements not just structural [defects]” to “serious structural defects”.

Conspiracy theorists can make of that what they will – not a lot, would be my guess – but the most significant takeaway from all this is that it’s not just new blocks in Sydney that are being checked.

However, someone in Fair Trading needs to sharpen up their word processing skills before they issue press releases.

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