Defects Cause High Levels of Owner Stress: Research

Home is our sanctuary. It has a profound psychological impact and provides us with positive emotions, and a sense of identity and belonging. As the expression goes, ‘Home is where the heart is’.

There is much research that proves the connection between home and mental health is intrinsically significant.

So, what happens when ‘there’s no place like home’ turns into a place fraught with unresolved defects?

Until now, there has been relatively little research on the impact that apartment defects has on buyers and new home owners.

To examine this closely, researchers from Bond University and University of Southern Queensland, conducted a two part research survey examining the post construction warranty phase where new owners take possession of their apartments.

Key Takeaways

There are some key takeaways that underscore the challenges and potential threat to the new apartment sector in this research called Post-Construction Defects in Multi-Unit Australian Dwellings: An Analysis of the Defect Type, Causes, Risks, and Impacts, researchers surveyed both experienced construction industry professionals and separately, residents / owners.

Based on responses, the most common defects are widely understood in the construction industry and the mainstream media has covered this well. The top three defects were identified as:

  • Waterproofing
  • Internal finishes
  • Structural issues

At least 84% of respondents deemed waterproofing and structural issues to be moderate to severe.

Waterproofing and structural defects were highlighted as the top risky defects in terms of their potential impact on apartment buildings, and they must be taken seriously and promptly, to avoid serious damage.

Residents play a key role in reporting defects, with 89% of defects identified by residents, who reported them to building owners, real estate agents, managers, and strata services.

However, 71% of the reported defects had been first reported three months or more prior, and 74% of them had not been fully rectified. Hardly prompt, nor taken seriously.

Reasons for not rectifying the issues included non-responsive building management, agents, or owners with scheduling difficulties for incomplete works, high costs, and litigation.

This places new owners in an extremely stressful situation, and one that the construction industry must be accountable for throughout the supply chain – from developer to builder to contractor.

In Summary

The researchers summarised that the defects had various impacts on residents, with the highest reported impacts being on the intended use of the property, psychological issues, and costs.

It is worth considering that this outcome is in context of the home purchase being a consumer’s largest investment. And yet, when the keys to their new property is handed over, quite often, there is no care factor and coordinated effort between all of the legally accountable businesses involved in delivery of the end product.

According to Karen Stiles, CEO of Owners Corporation Network of Australia, “What other products do you have to litigate to get it replaced if it’s wrong? A car? It gets recalled. A vacuum cleaner? Gets replaced. A $10 toaster? You get a new one. Why is it that with a million-dollar, or a 10 million-dollar, or some of them in Barangaroo going for $65 million dollars, why is it that you have to litigate to get what you paid for? It is the only product where that happens”.

A Turning Point For The Industry

As new legislated mandates, inspections and iCIRT rated companies evolve, there is light at the end of the tunnel with the industry coming together and bad players leaving town.

At the same time, digitisation is being embraced by the leading industry players.

Sophisticated platform solution DLP Manager, has been at the forefront of the Post Construction warranty phase with its customer-first platform, bringing together all stakeholders to communicate transparently, connect and close out defects on time.

From our initial trial to onboarding all of our latest projects – we have basically overhauled how we manage defects and are looking to implement this for the whole business.
— Nick Bouziotis, Project Manager, Mulpha Australia

DLP Manager is great for owners as they are in the driver’s seat of logging defects, and having visibility and notifications of progress. And it’s good for business, as it quickly resolves defects, returning bond and retention payments on time, driving cash flow to builders and developers.

DLP Manager builds reputations and word-of-mouth by consumers and consultants.

“We found working with DLP Manager on a recent SBBIS project an extremely effective tool in closing out reporting and achieving deadlines; subsequently allowing NSW Fair Trading to release the building bond to the developer. The DLP Manager system’s comprehensive documentation enabled us to efficiently track the recorded defects and associated works in tandem with the builder, together with reviewing photos and resident sign off for each individual item. We found DLP Manager allowed greater streamlining of the works and communication between all stakeholders involved.” – Alan Stewart, Building Consultant, MBMpl