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How to protect yourself from poor apartment construction… Part 1

By Rikki Cook

With prices climbing for single-family homes, more and more Australians are opting for flat living. Over the past few decades, apartment dwellers have increased to encompass 10% of the population, with an estimated occupied flat for every five houses.

Nearly half the residential property listings in Sydney and Perth are for apartments. But in recent years even the rising expense of purchasing traditional residential property isn’t pushing people into units, due to concerns about shoddy construction and high renovation costs. How do you protect yourself from poorly built apartments?

If you have committed to buy, you may be able to access a sellers certificate or owner’s corporation certificate, which will give some details of strata accounts. But a surer way to identify problems early in the process is to order a proper strata or body corporate inspection from professionals. These inspections typically cost under $500 and can reveal existing building defects and similarly serious issues.

What to look for in records

Cladding is one of the top concerns as a result of recent (and highly public) disasters. Many high-rise developments in Australia were built with flammable cladding, and depending on your location, it could be up to you to determine if a building in which you’re seeking to buy a unit was constructed using this material.

Water damage from leaking roofs and walls is one of the most common defects, but can also be difficult to track due to lack of transparency and deregulation across Australia. Check with other current and former owners in the building and gather as much information as you can before committing.

Keep and eye out for next weeks post on part 2…

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