In 2020 the NSW State Government introduced legislation changes designed to better protect buyers and residents of multi-storey apartment buildings.
This was a welcomed move from strata industry and owners alike.
Strata Title Management State Manager, Emily Doherty, who is also a board member of industry body, Strata Community Australia NSW, said SCA NSW was incredibly pleased that NSW now has leading design and building regulations that will deliver well-constructed buildings into the future.
“We are all for making improvements and supporting a system that will ultimately benefit strata owners.
“STM community managers deal with defects with our clients first hand and it can be completely confronting and devastating. These new legislation changes are a step forward towards improving the design and quality of the build of apartment buildings, which is great for existing and future strata owners,” said Ms Doherty.
One such change was the Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Act.
With the introduction of this new Act it means the NSW Building Commissioner now has unprecedented powers to regulate and raise the standard of residential buildings in NSW.
These powers are part of the Office of the NSW Building Commissioner’s Construct NSW strategy to protect apartment owners and residents from poor construction.
The Construct NSW strategy came into effect namely to establish new benchmarks of excellence and restore confidence in the residential construction industry.
The strategy is built on six pillars that each focus on specific areas of change including risk, skills and capability as well as strengthened standards and contracts.
The project team behind Construct NSW sought industry assistance to identify gaps in the construction sector and address skills requirements. Emily was invited to participate in the working group of the sixth pillar, Data and Research, and also features on pillar training videos.
“This is a great initiative and I was honoured to have been invited to participate in a video shoot.
“Three industry professionals were interviewed for a training video for Pillar 3, Skills and Capability, to educate students on the Importance of Communication from the Industry Perspective. That starts from the design phase, then the construction phase and for the entire life cycle of that building.
“The commissioner is serious about educating those in or about to enter the building industry understand how they need to conform,” said Ms Doherty.
Stamping out shoddy work
The NSW Building Commissioner commented that he will not hesitate to use his strongest powers to rid shoddy work in the construction industry. And he has already done so.
Since these new Acts came into effect it has been reported that Commissioner David Chandler has issued prohibition orders to developers of buildings in Sydney and on the north coast, preventing them from obtaining occupation certificates until defects have been fixed.
The commissioner recently ordered an immediate halt to work on an apartment development in Strathfield due to serious structural defects.
Mr Chandler advised that the Strathfield project was one of the worst he had seen, leaving him no choice but to issue a stop-work order on the building.
“We are absolutely serious. I want consumers to understand that I am their dog in the fight. I will be out there every single day to make sure they are getting what they paid for. We need to get consumers back into the market,” he said.
Mr Chandler indicated the increased numbers of orders meant people are starting to pay attention, and more notices would be handed out in coming weeks.
AAA – the voice for people who choose apartments
Australian Apartment Advocacy (AAA) is a not-for-profit agency that undertakes research with apartment owners and residents to lobby government and developers about the needs of the apartment community.
They are passionate about apartments and creating the ideal apartment lifestyle as well as educating apartment owners of their rights.
AAA Director, Sam Reece, says she highly commends the NSW legislative changes that provide a high standard in built form.
“But the one thing that is missing from this whole equation is empowering buyers to be informed about what they should be doing to protect themselves. Particularly when buying an apartment that may have been constructed prior to this new legislation.
“Right across Australia we are still seeing apartment owners faced with mounting defects and costs with very little consumer protection services to assist them. Adding to their frustrations is their lack of information available to help them,” said Ms Reece.
Educating strata owners
“AAA are lobbying the NSW government to work with us to create an education kit that will help buyers be fully aware when negotiating their next apartment purchase,” said Ms Reece.
Whilst the commissioner is currently issuing stop-work orders on buildings with defects requiring fixing prior to gaining occupation certificates, there are still new buildings out there with occupation certificates issued prior to this legislation taking effect last year.
The education kit will help future apartment buyers understand what to look out for and how to protect themselves when purchasing an apartment.
“Already we have seen over 2,000 requests for this education kit. The demand is very strong,” said Ms Reece.
STM, along with parent company Smarter Communities, are proud sponsors of AAA. By partnering with the AAA, we can provide support for the invaluable research such as how building defects impact owner confidence, and assist with educating the public on the benefits of apartment living.
AAA is the voice for people who choose apartments. Together we’re on your side to create a better lifestyle for those living and invested in strata communities.