Sean Nicholls, Sharon O’Neill and Naomi Selvaratnam| ABC| 18 August 2019
For the past two decades, Australia has been in an apartment building boom.
Governments have got out of the way, removing red tape and introducing private certification for an industry that’s worth more than $141 billion*.
But when Sydney’s Opal and Mascot Towers were evacuated because of structural cracking, the issue of defective high-rises was laid bare.
Experts have told Four Corners that the problem stretches across the country and many apartments built in the last 20 years are likely to contain some kind of defect.
So how bad could the problem be in your state?
Right now, there are plans to build close to 140,000 more apartments around the country.
There is no guarantee these new developments will be built under the stricter regulations recommended in a report by lawyer Bronwyn Weir and former senior public servant Peter Shergold, commissioned by Australian state and federal building ministers.
The report’s 24 recommendations included a crackdown on private certification, and registration of everyone involved in the building process.
At a meeting in July, building ministers committed to implementing the reforms.
Ms Weir warns the recommendations will do nothing to fix potential problems in the 667,394 apartments built in the last two decades.
“There’s a lot of existing building stock that has defects in it,” she said.
“There’ll be legacy issues for some time, and I suspect there’ll be legacy issues that we’re not even fully aware of yet.”