This ARC Linkage project report addresses the serious and growing problem of building defects in the trillion dollar multi-unit housing sector, which now provides almost half of new Australian housing. The research investigates three critical questions:

  • How prevalent are building defects?
  • Why do they occur?
  • How can multi-unit housing quality be improved?

The findings are intended to inform changes to planning and development policy and regulation, leading to improved building quality and safety, lower costs and stress for owners, more resilient urban communities, and better urban planning outcomes.

Research Context:

As planners and developers have embraced higher density housing development in Australian cities, there have been growing concerns about the quality of multi-unit strata titled (MUST) developments, with building defects the subject of considerable debate in the building professions and the media. Despite multiple reviews and inquiries, it took the emergency evacuation of two apartment complexes in Sydney in 2018/2019 to prompt significant regulatory reform in NSW.

While research has shown defects to be a chronic issue in the house building sector, the issue of apartment quality and defects has received less academic attention. The few existing Australian studies indicate a significant incidence of defects in MUST developments, exacerbated by governance, regulatory, legal and financial difficulties for residents. These studies also highlight challenges in collecting accurate data about the prevalence of defects in MUST housing.

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