In case you missed it: the 7:30 Report recently broadcast a story regarding the plight of defective apartment buildings sweeping Australia as of late.

Just recently the residents of Sydney’s Mascot Towers apartment complex were required to evacuate due to safety concerns, which has highlighted the serious issues surrounding the quality of newly built apartments – and understandably so!

This wasn’t the only such instance of forced evacuation to have taken place recently in Sydney. A whopping 3,000 residents were required to leave after collapsed beams prompted an emergency evacuation of the Opal Towers late last year. So it’s clear from the onset that this is not an isolated issue… and unfortunately it’s not just Sydney that’s been dealing with this.

Not just a concern for Sydney

The structural integrity of buildings and homes is an incredibly severe problem and one that stretches nationwide. Homeowners all across Australia are currently occupying buildings with structural defects that do not meet construction safety standards, leaving every one of these poor souls to deal with the consequences. What kind of fair practice is that?

Canberra was home to one unlucky individual who bought an off-the-plan investment property back in 2011 for $640,000. Not long after his purchase, cracks were found spreading throughout the apartment car park, which meant that the entire building’s structural integrity was compromised. The only way this could have been fixed was by reinforcing the building’s foundations with a staggering 45 props.

After going through the process of assessing the damage, the owner was told that the problem could indeed by rectified… FOR AROUND $9 MILLION DOLLARS! It has yet to be finalised who will end up having to pay this exorbitant sum of money to fix an issue that should never have occurred, but if the responsibility falls on the apartment owners, they will be left having to pay approximately $75,000 each. Understandably, they are not particularly happy about this prospect and are currently suing the builder, developer, and engineer of the building. They are also getting the state government involved and insisting that a rectification order be issued so that the financial burden be placed on the builders instead.

The stats don’t lie

A building safety report has recently been released by Deakin University that highlights the glaring issue that owners-to-be are left completely in the dark regarding the structural stability of apartments on the market. Among other defects, the report discovered that the most commonly found issues are unsafe cladding, inadequate waterproofing, and fire dangers. The fact that these are defects that are being found in newly built apartments at all is absolutely deplorable, the fact that they are being found time and time again is unacceptable.

One of the biggest issues associated with these building faults is the cost. Not only are these defects going to cost these homeowners an inordinate amount of money to fix, it will cost an enormous deal more than it would have cost to actually do the job properly to begin with.

Where’s the justice?

This is all crazy, right? Surely the government has laws in place to prevent things like this from happening. Well, by law it is required that builders return to rectify any defects at their own cost, however, there are also ways around this. For instance, an apartment owner in Melbourne recently that his building was covered in a flammable cladding after one of the apartment in his black caught fire. The estimated costs of repairing the damage came in at around $2-3 million, all of which should legally be the responsibility of the builders, however it turns out that they conveniently filed for voluntary liquidation. This now means that the costs unfairly fall onto the apartment owners by default.

To put this insanity into perspective, the apartment owner stated that legally speaking, Australians are given greater consumer protection for products such as toasters or televisions. I think it’s fair to say that he’s pretty spot on there. Why is it so easy for builders to escape the consequences of such egregious negligence? Legally, it shouldn’t be possible.

At the end of the day…

Until such issues are dealt with in the proper manner, this story really drives home the utmost necessity of getting a pre-purchase building inspection before you even think about handing over your money. As many rules and regulations as the building industry might have, it clearly goes to show that you can never be too careful, and that you should never blindly trust that a building is structurally sound just because it’s newly built.

Let’s start a new trend of encouraging people to have building inspections so instances like these become a thing of the past. And it could potentially save millions of dollars!