How D&C went from ‘Design & Construct’ buildings to ‘Drowning & Choking’ – Dr Jon Drane @ Griffith 2015

By September 18, 2015 Uncategorized No Comments

Nothing was to prepare him for what he saw the day he crossed over from 35 years of commercial construction and property development to advise on a leaking apartment building in Sydney’s Inner West.

Just 10 year old, the building looked like a ‘drowned beast’. Mould–affected rooms from continuous leaking and damp intrusion, gutters installed back to front, precast panels not joined properly; the car parks had flooded several times. Every apartment owner was demoralised and in a state of resignation. They joked despondently about internal water features when there was a storm.

This is how Dr. Jon Drane introduced his paper at the Griffith University Strata Conference 2015, Building Defects – A Builder’s Perspective, in which he traces the history of the erosion of architect-designed-and-supervised apartment buildings to developer-dominated design-and-construct projects. The author compares the horror of the leaking apartment he inspected with a more traditional and largely defect free development in which he was involved and concludes with a way forward – a defects detection matrix. This tool uses nine criteria to predict the likelihood of defects not pretty reading for owners in most new projects:

Low risk of defects High risk of defects
Client /Architect led design Developer led design
Experienced team and leader Inexperienced developer
Traditional Architect /master builder delivery D&C delivery system
Local council certifier Private certifier
Project management No project management
Separate builder Developer is builder
Clerk of works No quality supervision
Detail design by architect Detail design by architect
Independent contract arrangements Unscrupulous arrangements


Dr. Drane’s paper is a helpful explanation of how the residential apartment sector arrived at this sad point in history and the benchmarks against which unit owners might assess risk when buying apartments.

There remains one problem. The investing public still thinks buildings are signed off as fit for occupation by local authorities and they’re ‘drowning and choking’ as a result.

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