Buyers Beware – The Government Doesn’t Care!

As of January this year, apartment buildings more than three storeys high were no longer covered by home warranty insurance, leaving the owners of new apartments highly exposed when it comes to shortcomings in new apartments.

That’s why for new apartment owners it’s more important than ever to get a professional inspection of your new home as soon as you take possession. It’s all about finding the things that could go wrong, as well as those that are obviously substandard, and doing so as quickly as possible.

In most cases you will have only 90 days to identify defects and report them to the developer. After that you are pretty much on your own. And when you consider all the things you have to do when you move into a new apartment, those three months will just slip away.

A professional report should pick up all the defects and present them in a clear and understandable way that will help to bypass the “not our problem” attitude that some (though not all) developers take as soon as they’ve got your money.

They will also get copies of the “as built” drawings to compare what you thought you were paying for with what you actually got.

Dominic Ogburn of Access Property Services (accessproperty@bigpond.com) provides defect reports that routinely run to 50-plus pages. One of the most common problems he finds, and it’s one that you could never be expected to discover, is air conditioning that is just not powerful enough for the size of the apartment.

Another company, Asbuilt (on 1800 556 061 or www.asbuilt.com.au ) provides a similar service.

When we moved into our current apartment we discovered the developers had forgotten to install a door. We were pretty pleased with ourselves when that was fixed … until we discovered a neighbour had paid for a professional inspection and ended up having over 1000 problems remedied.

A full inspection and report can cost upwards of $1500, but when we readily spend a couple of hundred dollars for an NRMA report on a second-hand car worth $10,000, why do we then baulk at paying a couple of grand for a report on an apartment worth half a million? You do the maths.

Jimmy’s Letterbox

I’m an owner in a 1940s building which has 9 apartments and 5 shops. As the Owners Corporation did not have adequate sinking funds at the time of my shop renovation, I was forced to pay for essential common property repairs myself. I have submitted a detailed claim to our strata manager and O.C but they have little funds and simply stonewall on all important repairs. What can I do as I fear the problems in our building will get worse, including having active termites?

RM Summer Hill

Yours sounds like a clear case for calling the Office Of Fair Trading (Tel 13 32 20) and asking for a legally binding mediation on the imposition of a special levy as well as directing more money into the sinking fund.

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