Articles on Construction standards

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Defective apartment buildings aren’t just affecting the evacuated residents – the whole sector is suffering from a crisis of confidence. Paul Miller/AAP

Lack of information on apartment defects leaves whole market on shaky footings

The difficulty of finding out about building defects creates an information deficit that threatens public confidence and stability in the apartment market. NSW has begun work on a solution.
The crisis of confidence in the safety and soundness of new apartment buildings won’t end without a decisive response from federal, state and territory governments. David Crosling/AAP

Would you buy a new apartment? Building confidence depends on ending the blame game

Unsafe apartments are being evacuated as confidence plummets – even the author of a report commissioned by building ministers wouldn't buy a new apartment. What will it take for governments to act?
Government ministers responded to the construction industry crisis by announcing a national approach to implementing recommendations of a report they commissioned in 2017 and received 17 months ago. Bianca De Marchi/AAP

Ministers fiddle while buildings crack and burn

The construction industry crisis didn't happen overnight. Authorities have been on notice for years to fix the problems that now have the industry itself calling for better regulation.
Most new houses being built in Australia do no better than comply with the minimum energy performance required by regulations. Brendon Esposito/AAP

Australia’s still building 4 in every 5 new houses to no more than the minimum energy standard

Australia requires a minimum six-star energy rating for new housing. New homes average just 6.2 stars, so builders are doing the bare minimum to comply, even as the costs of this approach are rising.
The Mascot Towers building in Sydney’s inner south is cordoned off after residents were evacuated following the discovery of cracks in the building. Bianca De Marchi/AAP

Buck-passing on apartment building safety leaves residents at risk

Regulations that are meant to protect residents from building failures and fires have been found wanting. All governments must take responsibility for fixing the defective regime they created.
Australia’s new National Construction Code doesn’t go far enough in preparing our built environment for climate change. Sergey Molchenko/Shutterstock

Don’t forget our future climate when tightening up building codes

Fires and building failures highlighted serious gaps in Australian building regulations. But recent revisions and recommendations still fall short of preparing our buildings for climate change.
The burden of regulatory failure hasn’t just hit residents of evacuated apartments like the Neo200 building in Melbourne – it affects everyone living in a building with serious defects. Ellen Smith/AAP

Housing with buyer protection and no serious faults – is that too much to ask of builders and regulators?

Years of regulatory failure are having direct impacts on the hip pockets of the many Australians who bought defective houses or apartments. It's turning into a multibillion-dollar disaster.
Can Australians be confident that the new National Construction Code will ensure new buildings avoid structural defects like those that led to the evacuation of the Opal Tower (left) in Sydney? Dylan Coker/AAP

Australia has a new National Construction Code, but it’s still not good enough

Under the new code, buildings are hardly likely to differ measurably from their fault-ridden older siblings and can still fall short of a six-star rating. It's possible they may have no stars!
Flames spread rapidly up the external wall cladding at the Lacrosse building in Melbourne in November 2014. More than four years on, the combustible panels are still in use. MFB

Lacrosse fire ruling sends shudders through building industry consultants and governments

Architects, certifiers and engineers who work as consultants to builders are on notice about potential liability for the use of flammable cladding, but governments are also culpable for their actions.
Residents evacuated from the Neo200 building in Melbourne were unaware of the fire risk posed by its cladding. Ellen Smith/AAP

Don’t overlook residents’ role in apartment building safety

As more and more Australians live and work in high-rise buildings, their responsibilities and roles in ensuring all occupants' safety must not be neglected.
The fire in the Melbourne CBD on Monday was a reminder of the urgency of developing a system that guarantees only materials that meet building safety standards are used. Bekah Jane/Twitter

Cladding fires expose gaps in building material safety checks. Here’s a solution

Fortunately, no lives were lost in the latest cladding fire in Melbourne, but it's a stark reminder of the urgent need to track and verify that building materials comply with safety standards.
The 392 apartments in Opal Tower (centre) were evacuated on Christmas Eve when residents heard loud cracks and defects were found. Paul Braven/AAP

Beyond Opal: a 10-point plan to fix the residential building industry

While Opal Tower residents are more badly affected than most, up to 80% of multi-unit buildings have serious defects. Here's what government can do right now to fix the industry.
Lochiel Park in Adelaide was Australia’s first large-scale attempt to create homes that use near net zero energy. Stephen Berry

When the heat hits: how to make our homes comfortable without cranking up the aircon

Air conditioning changed both building design and people's active management of home temperatures. A return to houses designed for our climate can keep us comfortable and cut energy use and emissions.
About 300 people were evacuated from Sydney’s Opal Tower after a loud cracking sound was heard on December 24 and a large crack appeared on the 10th floor. Paul Braven/AAP

There are lessons to be drawn from the cracks that appeared in Sydney’s Opal Tower, but they extend beyond building certification

It's tempting to blame building certifiers and the fact they are privately employed. But the cracks in the quality of our apartment buildings go deeper and can be fixed.

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