Engineers can spot the rot the government is happy to paint over


When a respected body like Engineers Australia speaks you would expect someone to listen, but it seems not. Two years ago the peak body for the engineering profession said this to the NSW government,

‘The current system of building certification in Australia is not in the interests of the Australian people or the building industry as a whole.’ [1]

That system, to be sure, is the one that paves the way for residential apartment buildings to be occupied as having been built safely in accordance with national standards. The current system allows developers to choose and pay their own certifiers. Not surprisingly conflicts are rife and standards are slipping. It’s costing lives. [2]

Engineers Australia says 85% of strata buildings in NSW are defective at completion, there is absolutely no due diligence for private certifiers at all, and a builder who prices a job correctly is unlikely to be successful. That’s a sad indictment on a system that’s fundamental to our safety.

Instead of reviewing the certification system as recommended by the engineers, the NSW government has proposed that a building bond of 2% of the contract price be held for 2 years to cover building defects. As night follows day developers will put this on the purchaser’s tab so effectively this becomes a forced savings plan for apartment investors.

Investors in newly constructed apartments will now buy defective apartments from developers that will charge them an extra 2% for the privilege which they might get back to fix the defects if they can get themselves organised in time to fight for the deposit.

Should’ve listened to the engineers for my money, and life.

[1] Engineers Australia Multi Disciplinary Committee Submission to NSW Government, June 2013

[2] In the last 3 years: Bankstown high-rise fire leading to one death, Melbourne wall collapse killing 2, Macquarie Park death from failure of high level balustrade , ibid.

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