Building Defects In Multi-story Apartments

by Aug 6, 2020

What are the most common defects?

The report by Dr. Nicole Johnston, Deakin University and Sacha Reid Griffith University, titled ‘An Examination of Building Defects in Residential Multi-owned Properties[1] raises a number of important issues for designers, contractors, and owners. The report is based on 212 building audits and 3227 defects.  The breakup is as follows:
  • Building fabric and cladding 40%
  • Fire Protection 13%
  • Water Proofing 11.5%
  • Roof and Rainwater 8.5%
  • Structural 7%
  • Other (services, utilities, etc) 20%

The report identified that approx. 1/3 of the fabric and cladding defects were water and moisture penetration related.  Add the waterproofing and roof/rainwater defects and you get approx. 32% of all the defects are water or weather tightness related.   Examples of these defects included poor design (flat roofs), poor materials (corrosion) and poor installation.

Between 1990 and 2000 New Zealand’s Leaky Buildings disaster was due to poor design, materials, and installations.  Common problems included flat roofs, parapets, roof to wall junctions, external fixings, lack of flashing, unsuitable cladding, etc.  The total repair costs were estimated at up to $23b.  This is a warning for other countries that the traditional and proven ‘weathering’ techniques should not be ignored.

The Building Blox video about high rise apartment balconies by Ross Taylor & Associates is a good example of what not to do and the long term risks.

What can be done to improve things?

  • Design out the problems in the first place
  • Use materials that have a proven track record over many years
  • Implement proper inspection and test plans to check the installation
  • Inform owners of the life cycle impacts in building manuals and sinking funds
  • Or become a smart owner and avoid being left with the problems –
    • Invest in an independent inspection of the property before handover and again prior to the end of the warranty period.
    • Include in the pre-handover inspection, a thorough review of the final Building Manuals and as-built documents to ensure compliance with the regulations

While an owner can avoid buying a poorly designed building or apartment in the first place, off the plan sales and brand new buildings will not show all the defects until later on.  With a fixed warranty period’s owners need to get smarter in how to record and manage defects as soon as possible if they want to recover the costs.  In Dr. Johnson’s report on defects, she identified the difficultly in comparing the data from different sources.  The ability to analyse trends and systemic defects across the whole facility is critical.  For multi-owned or strata type facilities getting a single approach to collection and reporting is critical.


Manage Building Defects with the Siteworks App

Many OmTrak clients use the Site Works App to record and report on the status and completion of defects.  The Site Works App incorporates standard coding to allow for easy reporting.

Also using the builders’ own system may not give the owners access to the data.  This can prevent owners from getting the ‘full’ picture on the extent of the problems.

With a fixed warranty period, owners need to get smarter in how to record and manage defects if they want to recover the costs.

Site Works can then be simply switched over to the Owner or Strata Manager to continue the required scheduled servicing. This can avoid legal claims by the builder that lack of proper maintenance by the owners caused the defects later on.

As well as scheduled services extended warranty defects and normal day to day maintenance requests can be managed using Site Works.

If you would like to know more about how to improve the management of defects and get smarter, contact us at Omtrak


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