Building Commission NSW reveals improvements in defects in newer apartment buildings

In a recent survey conducted by the Building Commission NSW in collaboration with the Strata Community Association NSW (SCA), significant insights into the state of residential apartment buildings in New South Wales have emerged.

The 2023 survey focused on serious defects in class 2 residential apartment buildings, providing valuable data for the building, construction, design, and architecture industries.


One key finding from the survey is a positive trend in the prevalence of serious common property defects in newer apartment buildings. Since 2020, there has been a steady decline in serious defects, instilling confidence in buyers of new apartments. This marks a positive shift for the industry and suggests that efforts to address and rectify defects are making an impact.

The survey, the second of its kind, collected responses from 642 strata managers representing eligible strata schemes registered between 2016 and 2022. The research spanned from June 26 to August 31, 2023, utilizing the newly implemented NSW Strata Hub to enhance the user experience for strata managers.

According to the survey results, 53 percent of buildings reported serious defects in common property. Notably, defects in newer buildings have shown a downward trend since 2020. However, the proportion of serious defects reported to the regulator in 2023 has more than doubled since the 2021 survey, with 34 percent of buildings with serious defects notifying the regulator, compared to 15 percent in 2021.

NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler OAM states, “While this survey delivers an important reminder of the legacy issues that reside in apartment buildings completed before the Construct NSW reform strategy commenced in 2019, it demonstrates that these reforms have shifted the dial in the right direction for newer buildings. “

Waterproofing and fire safety systems continue to be the most prevalent defects, at 42 percent and 24 percent, respectively, in 2023. Although waterproofing defects have declined in recent years, addressing these issues remains a priority for the industry. “The incidence of waterproofing defects is declining, supported by what building inspectors are seeing in the field. The reported incidence of non-compliant fire safety and key building services installations has increased, possibly due to increased awareness of these building elements.” Continues, David Chandler OAM.

Encouragingly, the survey highlighted that owners are actively resolving defects, with almost half being addressed within one year through agreements with builders or developers. This positive outcome reflects the commitment to rectifying issues promptly and maintaining the quality of residential apartment buildings.

Strata managers also noted the positive impact of new laws in NSW, with 48 percent agreeing that the introduction of these regulations has increased consumer confidence in residential apartments. This demonstrates the importance of regulatory frameworks in fostering trust among buyers and ensuring the quality and safety of buildings.

President of the SCA Stephen Brell, “Addressing building defects remains a formidable task, however, I feel that the establishment of the Building Commission NSW demonstrates how serious the government is in restoring confidence in NSW apartment buildings.”

As the building industry continues to evolve, the insights from this survey provide a valuable benchmark for stakeholders to collaborate on further improvements and address challenges in the construction and design of residential apartment buildings in New South Wales.

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