This article about ways the government and construction industry can come together to create healthy buildings has been provided by Dimitri Livas, Savil Group.
Strata managers and owners corporations should be required to partner with qualified asset managers, and companies that understand construction.
One problem that seems to persist is a lack of action in the early days of building issues being identified by owners corporations and strata managers. This might come down to indecision, lack of understanding of the process, or lack of skill and proper direction from consultants. It’s worthwhile to note that most owners corporations are made up of owners who simply volunteer their time, so they’re not always qualified to manage a building with major issues.
A qualified asset manager should team up with a company that understands construction and has at their fingertips a whole host of remedies for any issues, and the networks and the means to carry out the necessary work and to educate the stakeholders in those buildings. That’s what ensures buildings have a healthy life.
Employ inspectors who have enough time and resources to do their job properly.
In fact, I’d recommend impartial structural engineers to be involved in a build from Day One. We can look to Dubai for inspiration here. Dubai is a city which has some of the world’s largest and most impressive structures (built on sand, of all things).
They have additional measures in place during construction where the structural engineer is impartial and their decision is independent. They also have the authority to actually stop the works and stop the concrete pouring if there’s a concern.
In the old days we had a similar impartial role in Australia, it was the Clerk of Works. This would be something well worth re-introducing into the process.
Place a stronger focus on the main risk and problem areas of waterproofing, cladding fire safety, concrete and steel reinforcements
In essence, we need as many eyes checking works as possible.
Again in Dubai, government authorities have their own engineer to conduct inspections in addition to the structural engineers and the builders’ engineers. These additional inspections ensure that nothing slips through the gaps, whether it’s an honest mistake or the result of incompetence or a lack of resourcing.
Introduce specialist consultants who perform a preventative rather than a prescriptive role.
This entails consultants working on a build who have the expertise to prevent future issues occurring, rather than being brought in after something has gone wrong to prescribe the fix.
An example would be a wet seal consultant being closely involved with the build who has to sign off and document each stage of the wet seal process during construction — according to legislation that is both clear and effective.
Have tighter regulations in the design process and in the build process.
Along with this, I’d like to see an increased level of government oversight when it comes to inspections of works in progress, especially in the higher risk structural parts of the works. Fire safety and issues around water such as wet sealing, water ingress and water failure should also be prioritised.
Protection for the buyer in the case of major defects.
Buyers need legislative protection, and the creation of such laws would need to be made in collaboration with the government’s regulatory authorities, industry construction specialists, and bodies such as the Master Builders Association (MBA) who push for quality of build. I’d also recommend ongoing professional development, education, and adherence to standards for members of the MBA.
The crux of all of this is the more people who understand the true needs of both government and industry, the better bridges we can create between these worlds. This is essential to ensure the safety, use, and longevity of our buildings.
Building better bridges (so to speak) between industry, government and other stakeholders will allow us to apply the lessons learnt from fixing broken buildings so we can create healthy buildings of the future.
- NSW: Q&A Obtaining Information About a Major Building Defect
- QLD Q&A Alarm Bells: Doctoring BC Records to Hide Building Defects
This post appears in Strata News #275
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided for your personal information only. It is not meant to be legal or professional advice nor should it be used as a substitute for such advice. You should seek legal advice for your specific circumstances before relying on any information herein.
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