Deakin University Blasts Defects

28 Sep Deakin University Blasts Defects

“It is reasonable to expect that our home is constructed in a manner that, at the very least, is stable, safe, sheltered and fit for purpose. Unfortunately, new residential buildings in Australia appear to be plagued with defects. Although the building itself can be fractured by these defects, it is the residents living there who face the impacts. These include but are not limited to: risk to life, risk to personal safety, risk to health (physical and psychological), increased financial costs, and in some instances removal from the property. In the multi-owned property environment, those that govern (the owners corporation and its committee) and manage these buildings can be significantly impacted due to the complexities associated with rectifying defects”.

So writes the opening paragraph of the joint 2019 report of Deakin and Griffith Universities which can be found here:

But it just gets worse, the further you read.  The report also includes gems like this one: “Many industry representatives suggested that human error played a significant part in building defects and the misuse of building products, lack of training, and lack of licensing were all common factors contributing the defect problems.”

Human error.  Misuse of building products.  Lack of training.  Lack of Licencing.  It’s hardly a glowing review of the plumbing and building industries, both of which are licenced trades in most Australian states.   And we would add Cost Cutting and Pressure to Finish the Job to this list as well.  No matter the cause, it’s a nightmare for affected building owners and a nightmare the construction industry in Australia needs to fix – urgently.

Whilst the Deakin/Griffith report focused on multi unit residential properties, we have also seen these defects replicated right across the entire building industry.  People everywhere in Australia are being seriously impacted by building defects, and close analysis of the data shows the vast majority of problems are related to leaks and water penetration through structures.  Essentially that = plumbing defects in most cases.

NSW has finally got something moving to clean up its act with appointment of the new Building Commissioner, David Chandler OAM, whose work to date should encourage positive change not only for the industry but all consumers, however he currently remains a voice in the wilderness with no such change being discussed, yet alone acted upon, virtually anywhere else in Australia, including in the home state for Metropolis, of Victoria.

It’s simply not acceptable that serious building defects exist, yet alone ones that are repeated again and again and again and again across multiple buildings, yet alone in every single state and territory.  Serious defects should be confined to genuine errors and like aircraft accidents, they should be rare, not affecting almost every building.

One of the most bizarre findings we at Metropolis located in the Deakin/Griffith report involves our friends in Singapore.  They use the very same Australian Standards for roof plumbing work as we do, but they live in a tropical country just a few degrees above the equator and where rain means big rain.  Anybody who has ever been to Singapore knows this and the oppressive humidity which always equals huge storms.  The research shows that their buildings leak too, but the stark difference is in where the leaks are coming from – there appear to be no roof or gutter leaks of any consequence in Singapore – as you might expect with massive tropical storms being a regular occurrence.  Instead they have an issue (in 36% of buildings) with leaks from pipe penetrations, construction joints, walls and slabs – all of which would suggest poor detailing type work during construction, whereas the Australian experience of roof leaks coming into enormous numbers of buildings and causing significant damage in equally huge numbers of buildings, points very clearly to a complete disaster zone in the area of roof plumbing (in particular).   Roofs apparently don’t leak in tropical and wet Singapore, but they do right across Australia, the driest continent on earth, but particularly in multi unit residential settings (which are also everywhere in the tiny island state of Singapore, but obviously far better constructed and designed than what we can possibly yet manage here).

Unfortunately this report is a ‘read it and weep’ situation which requires a country wide response on an urgent basis.

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