Serious defects in half of NSW strata buildings


If Building Commissioner David Chandler needed validation for supersizing his department from 40 to 400 defects detectors, it didn’t take long to arrive.

A new report issued this week reveals that more than half (53%) of all strata buildings had serious defects discovered between 2016 – 2022, with an estimated $79 million being spent by owners corporations to rectify them. Talk about cause and effect!

The most common defects reported in the survey were waterproofing (42%), fire safety systems (24%), building enclosures (19%), structural issues (15%), key services such as plumbing and elevators (14%), and non-compliant cladding (8%).

However, the study revealed decreased incidents related to waterproofing, structural defects, and non-compliant cladding, while fire safety, enclosure, and key services experienced an upward trend. 

The rise of ‘key services’ defects – which encompasses appliances such as lifts, garage doors, car stackers, air conditioning, security systems, and smart building technologies – is attributed to the introduction of newer technologies and their focused inclusion in the survey.

  • 94% of buildings had a current annual fire safety statement (one that had been issued in the past 12 months). 
  • For almost half (48%) of the buildings with all resolution work completed, serious defects were resolved within a year. 
  • The most common barriers to effectively dealing with serious defects were delays from the builders or developers (42%), lack of engagement from builders or developers (31%), as well as the upfront costs involved (28%). 
  • The average cost of rectifying serious defects was $283,000 per building. 57% of these costs were associated with repairs, 20% with professional costs, and 15% with legal costs.

A joint initiative between SCA (NSW) – the strata managers’ professional body – and the Office of the Building Commissioner, the 2023 survey was completed by more than 600 strata managers and indicates an increase in serious defects since the last report published in 2021. For schemes registered since 2020, however, serious defects have decreased from 34% to 27%.

SCA NSW President, Stephen Brell, said: “Tacking building defects continues to be a formidable task and one that is time-consuming, financially burdensome and emotionally draining for all involved.

“We are grateful that these survey results show that consumers feel empowered to report defects with the regulator receiving double the amount of serious defects reported (34%) than in 2021 (15%) showing increased confidence in regulation.”

The survey sought to gain a broad understanding of the impact of serious building defects in the NSW strata community. As it stands, there are more than 85,000 strata schemes throughout NSW, with that number expected to skyrocket by 2040.

Despite the increase in serious defects, the survey also revealed positive developments in survey participation, with a 30% increase from 492 schemes in 2021 to 642 schemes in 2023. In addition to this, almost half (48%) of strata managers agreed that recent reforms have increased consumer confidence, while 34% of consumers are more confident in reporting defects to the regulator. This increased engagement demonstrates a growing commitment within the strata community to address and rectify building defects.

Acknowledging the challenges posed by these latest survey findings, Stephen Brell said: “We are committed to advocating for consumers and will continue to work hand in glove with David Chandler and the Office of the Building Commissioner to help rectify and prevent building defects, to ensure that every resident and homeowner has a safe place to live.” 

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  • #71790

      If Building Commissioner David Chandler needed validation for supersizing his department from 40 to 400 defects detectors, it didn’t take long to arri
      [See the full post at: Serious defects in half of NSW strata buildings]

      The opinions offered in these Forum posts and replies are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.
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    • #71812

        Not being a builder I can only go on what I have heard about the defects problem.  But I strongly suspect that the privatisation of Building Inspectors who issue approval certificates or similar coincided with the downturn in quality buildings and escalated from there. More failed privatisation policies!

        One assumes these new inspectors will face the wrath of ICAC if they are Public Servants and are found gilding the lily so to speak.  Let’s face it, Developers are necessary to build what needs to be built but that doesn’t mean they have to accept shoddy workmanship from their sub contractors, the winner of course is probably always the lowest bidder!

        Good luck to the new system, one just has to look at Mascot Towers to see how badly the system has done in the past and feel so much for the poor buyers.  The government MUST fix that problem, a NSW Government was in charge when it happened.  For God’s sake the Federal Government just offered an apology to Thalidomide affected people for what happened forty years ago   The Government wasn’t aware enough of the problem and allowed it to continue.  So the same formula should work with Mascot Towers et al.  I do not diminish the suffering of the Thalidomide victims in anyway but I can see a parallel for government responsibility.

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