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Associations advocate for audits

A group of 15 associations, who are instrumental to the apartment sector, have banded together calling on further action in relation to the Building Confidence Report, which was commissioned some five years ago post Grenfell and then the Mascot and Opal Towers catastrophes.

The industry group known as Apartment Associations Australia, are calling on the WA State Government to mandate apartment audits after a damning Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) report stated $1.3 billion of defects in construction could be attributed to apartments, representing over 50% of the total bill.

Master Plumbers and Gas Fitters Association CEO Murray Thomas stated that with an anticipated 65,000 apartments to be delivered Nationally over the next five years, now was the time to take action.

“As per the Building Confidence Report’s recommendations, the Associations would like to see mandated audits introduced into WA ensuring that we are on par with the other States.”

The Australian Apartment Advocacy is also in alignment with this industry push stating that with audits comes the opportunity to offer apartment owners, living in four storeys or above, home warranty insurance protection.

CEO Samantha Reece stated this represented 1.25 million people nationally or half of the current apartment community.

“This process will ensure that apartment construction is robust and that those people who choose to live in an apartment can do so with confidence, without fear of a devastating defects bill.

“Our research shows that over the last two years the presence of apartment defects in WA has increased to 70%, up 10% since 2021 and if that trend continues, it will be the death knoll for the industry.”

The other associations calling for mandatory audits with the apartment sector include · Master Builders Association WA (MBAWA), Australian Glass and Window Association (AGWA), Australian Steel Institute (ASI), Australian Institute of Waterproofing (AIW), · Master Plumbers and Gas Fitters Association, NFIA to name just a few.

Bronwyn Weir co-author of the Building Confidence Report stated that it was best that Government commenced the audits as a trial with apartments (Class 2).

“These are the more complex of builds, the trades do not necessarily need to be licensed and the buyers are the most vulnerable, especially without insurance,” Ms Weir said.

“Audits will identify defects and have them rectified during construction, which is a fraction of the cost of rectifying defects post construction,” Ms Weir said.

“Contrary to popular belief, audits do not increase the cost of construction, they simply shift post construction costs imposed on innocent owners back to the construction phase, where they belong.

“If the reliability and durability of apartments increases this will undoubtedly boost the confidence of buyers.”

The AAA, AGWA and CARES recently met with Hon Sue Ellery MLC Minister for Finance, Commerce and Women’s Interests to discuss the potential to trial the apartment audit upon a State Government led project.

“Government can lead by example and this will demonstrate that an audit is not a cost impost but rather a value add, and one that buyers are prepared to pay for,” Ms Reece said.

“With the advent of build to rent, those asset owners will seek this exact process as they will maintain ownership. We need to afford the same degree of quality to individual owners who contract with the developer and not the builder and hence need added consumer protection.”

Bryn Williams (Australian Institute of Waterproofing), Paul Colliver (NFIA), Samantha Reece (AAA), Murray Thomas (Master Plumbers and Gas Fitters Association) and James Whitehouse (AGWA) are some of the Associations calling for mandated inspections of apartments four storeys and higher.

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