Protecting yourself in Queensland, when the regulations don't
The decision by QCAT and QBCC discussed in my last post leaves buyers of new property exposed to thousands (or even millions) in repair bills for use of dodgy materials in a new building.
How can you protect yourself?
This is not easy, because construction is complicated, with many elements that must work together to provide a safe, secure and long-lasting building. For this reason, we have many regulations (around design, foundation inspections, registration of builders and tradespeople) to avoid the wrong thing happening. When the regulators stop doing their job - we have a BIG Problem.
There are a number of things you can do as a buyer:
Ensure that you reference check the architect, engineer, developer and builder.
Look for a developer and builder with ISO9001 quality certification. Ensure that this covers the construction works (not just development and sales activities)
Insist on receiving a copy of the building designs and specifications and require access to the inspection reports on the building.
Insist on a long warranty on the property - including full repair costs if something is defective.
Get legal advice on the purchase contract - making sure that items 3 and 4 are properly covered.
Try and get in contact with other buyers of properties in the same development. Work together to share the costs and the effort.
A competent building inspector can assist you with managing items 1, 2 and 3 above.
Typical Building inspections look only at surface and visible issues in the course of a few hours. This may help identify some concerns, but will not find issues such as mis-specified products [e.g. it did not help in the JadeCorp case]
Requesting a more comprehensive building inspection can allow more detailed assessment of the building, but also the management of quality on the whole project. This will be expensive however, and may work best where multiple buyers in a single development pool their resources to cover the higher costs of inspection.
Get the Word Out
Talk to your friends, colleagues and family who are interested in property and make them aware of the risks
Talk to your local politicians. The long term effect of these decisions is that quality of building will decline in Queensland, ruining investments and needlessly damaging the real estate and overall economy. Get them to act.
Talk to developers, builders and real estate agents and let them know you are concerned. When they see the negative effects, they will act to drive change
Ultimately, there is no risk if you don't buy a new apartment or house.
If developers and agents are fighting you on the points above (particularly point #4), then let them know it is a show stopper.
If you feel uncomfortable about investing your hard earned wealth into a project that could be a costly disaster - then DON'T.
Apologies about the length of this post - but if it saves one person from a disastrous purchase - it is worth every word.