Up to a quarter of Victoria’s apartment buildings may have serious balcony defects, a new analysis has found.
In a research paper released last Friday, Cladding Safety Victoria has summarised the results of an analysis of external wall systems which lie behind the external layer of cladding on 339 buildings which have been the subject of rectification funding under the state’s cladding rectification program.
All up, it found that of the 339 buildings for which rectification funding has been received as of October last year, almost half (168) contained non-cladding external wall defects.
This include 84 buildings on which defective balconies have been uncovered – representing almost one quarter of the buildings that have received cladding rectification funding.
Of these, the most common cause of defect included water ingress (44 buildings), inadequate or no waterproofing (19 buildings) and design flaws (7 buildings).
Around two-thirds of the buildings which contain defective balconies are more than ten years old.
Balcony defects were found be more prevalent (and of higher concern) on buildings where the timber structural beams are screwed into timber frames.
Nevertheless, concrete slab balconies have also had noticeable issues related to lack of waterproof membranes.
In its report, Cladding Safety Victoria raised concerns that defective balconies are likely to be widespread and are symptomatic of a broader lack of compliance with the National Construction Code.
“CSV is concerned that the situation in relation to defective balconies is widespread and has proliferated over at least two decades; this is not a new issue,” it said.
“While the source of the issue is primarily attributed to the builder, the problem of building defects more generally is, in CSV’s view, symptomatic of broader underlying levels of non-compliance with the National Construction Code …”
According to the report, rectification can be tricky on account of the need to source funds, lack of awareness that the problem exists, understanding of owner rights and responsibilities and disagreement amongst the owners corporation about the approach that should be taken.
Further problems can arise out of inadequate maintenance or balconies, decks or balustrades over time.
Another complication is that building insurance policies often contain exclusions which could affect the likelihood of successful insurance claims.
Among other matters, these exclusions can relate to wear and tear, gradual deterioration, developing flaws, building defects and rectification of faulty workmanship.
Domestic Building Insurance under the Building Act 1993 is typically not available as builders are not required to obtain this for developments of more than three stories.
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