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Survey shows serious defects down in newer apartment buildings

Building Commission NSW 3 mins read

A 2023 survey on serious building defects in NSW strata communities found a steady decline in serious common property defects since 2020, giving confidence to buyers of new apartments.


Building Commission NSW, in partnership with Strata Community Association NSW (SCA), conducted research into the prevalence of serious defects in class 2 residential apartment buildings and how strata communities deal with them. 


It is the second time the research has been conducted, with strata managers surveyed in 2021 finding 39 per cent of strata buildings had serious defects on common property.


Results of the 642 surveys in 2023 found:

  • 53 per cent of buildings have had serious defects in common property. Defects in newer buildings are trending downward since 2020.
  • The proportion of serious defects reported to the regulator in 2023 has more than doubled since the 2021 survey; 34 per cent of buildings with serious defects reported them to the regulator in 2023, compared to 15 per cent in 2021.
  • As in 2021, waterproofing and fire safety systems were the most prevalent defects (42 per cent and 24 per cent respectively for 2023). The prevalence of waterproofing defects has declined in recent years.
  • Owners fully resolving defects are mostly doing so by agreement with the builder or developer with almost half being resolved within one year.
  • 48 per cent of strata managers agreed that introduction of new laws in NSW have increased consumer confidence in residential apartments.  


The 2023 voluntary survey obtained insights from strata managers representing eligible strata schemes registered between 2016 and 2022 and ran from 26 June to 31 August 2023 through the NSW Strata Hub.  


It was the first survey deployed through the Strata Hub, which auto-populated data to improve the survey user experience and streamline the process for strata managers who represent multiple buildings.   


The findings from the survey and full report can be found here:


Quotes to be attributable to the NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler OAM: 


“While this survey delivers an important reminder of the legacy issues that reside in apartment buildings completed before the Construct NSW reform strategy commenced in 2019, it demonstrates that these reforms have shifted the dial in the right direction for newer buildings.  


“This survey presents some promising findings. It demonstrates a steady decline in the reported defects since 2020, and strata communities and future apartment purchasers should be increasingly confident that NSW is the most attractive state in which to purchase a new apartment.  


“The incidence of waterproofing defects is declining, supported by what building inspectors are seeing in the field. The reported incidence of non-compliant fire safety and key building services installations has increased, possibly due to increased awareness of these building elements.  


“Developers and builders associated with the construction of apartment buildings with serious defects have increasingly been held accountable to fix them since the commencement of the NSW Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Act 2020 (RAB Act) and the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (DBP Act).”


Quotes to be attributable to the President of the SCA Stephen Brell:  


“Many people across NSW live in vibrant, thriving and diverse strata communities, and they play a pivotal role in our society.


“With the number of strata schemes rapidly increasing in NSW, SCA continues to support the NSW Government's commitment to enhancing the quality of life for strata residents.   


“I’m proud of the role our members have played in providing valuable insights as part of this research completing 642 surveys, up from 492 in 2021. This represents a 41 per cent survey response rate.  


“The data and findings in 2023 point to a backlog of legacy defects. Project Intervene, an outcome of the 2021 survey, is making inroads into these buildings with over 150 buildings registered for the program. 


“Addressing building defects remains a formidable task, however, I feel that the establishment of the Building Commission NSW demonstrates how serious the government is in restoring confidence in NSW apartment buildings.”  

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