Let’s talk membrane – and I don’t mean your brain!

When you are looking at an apartment to buy you may be considering a number of aspects, such as how many bedrooms, carbays and even the size of the balcony. But what is in fact one of the most important factors to consider, is whether the water membrane was installed correctly.

Recent research by the Australian Apartment Advocacy has shown that internal water proofing is one of the highest rating defects across the Nation and certainly represents on average 60% of apartment insurance claims. In QLD the Government has recognised this trend and taken the bold step of licensing membrane installers (the only State in the Country) and their incidence of internal water proofing issues is as a result, substantially lower than the rest of the nation(approximately 20%).

But the unfortunate situation is, this is an area where costs often get cut in an apartment project and yet, if installed correctly, would save substantial refurbishment works. Industry data has indicated that installation of water membrane costs on average $300 per bathroom but repairs can average $15,000 and that is a cost that certainly could save all parties significantly if the mantra - prevention rather than cure - was adhered to.

Furthermore, certain water membrane companies will provide a 10 year warranty – four years more than the current building regulations – and hence the correct installation is even more vital to that guarantee being honoured.

There is no doubt that erecting apartments is a complex business and hence so is all the elements that are required in the process. However, if the buyers start to ask for Water membrane guarantees as part of the sales documents, and the State Government licenses this trade, the occurrence of internal water proofing issues will substantially diminish and that gives surety to the lot owners – especially in WA which is still embryonic in its apartment culture.

The ability to set the right agenda for future apartment growth is timely and certainly deals beyond design aspects – but more around durability and longevity. There is new legislation coming to the fore in Victoria, WA, NSW and QLD and it is all around ensuring the standard of materials and their applications are going to guarantee quality builds and greater protection for the consumer.

With 2.5 million people in Australia choosing apartments as their preferred home, and this only growing, it is essential that the future of this industry is focused on best practice and breeding confidence in all who choose apartment living.

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