23 September 2008

Top Dollar For Poor Quality Housing In Bruce?!

| tylersmayhem
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[First filed: July 21, 2008 @ 12:42]

I’ve always harped on about buying an established property, rather than something brand new. Something I saw today not only back’s up my belief, but also beckons my belief.

I work in Bruce, and it’s always escaped me why anyone would want to pay top dollar to live in a new development that has a gated compound smack bang in the middle. My questions have been further added to today after I saw 2 out of 3 apartment buildings with massive zig-zagging cracks in the exterior walls which start from the window edge and work down. Granted, there is a guy working as quickly as he can, up on a ladder with some cement to “patch” up the damage (probably before too many owners see).

I realise that many houses in Canberra, old and new, are experiencing levels of cracking and movement of bricks due to the drought etc etc. But 12 months after being built, and only about 3-4 months after being occupied? My blood runs cold thinking if I had bought one of those properties and this is happening only after less than a year. I can’t imagine it will take long to see the effects inside.

I anticipate the argument of how expensive established houses are, and this is very true. But from the information I have been able to find, these 2 bedroom apartments sold off the plan for around 400k. There are definitely established properties around for that price. Maybe not as central, but probably many of which didn’t have too much structural movement until the drought started. I’m all for those who want to experience “inner city living” in Canberra, but it escapes me why the pricing is just so high, other than the fact that people are simply prepared to pay for it.

I hope those who own these properties take firm action against the developers, and that the damage is only limited!


Further to my post back in July, now that the patching up was finally been finished and those who did not see the damage would be none he wiser – yesterday we had some rain again. Yep, you guessed it, more damage – but this time about 5 times worse than back in July. This morning there was a whole team of tradies out on ladders not only re-patching their recent cover-up work, but also attending to about 7-10 more gaping cracks on the side of the building.

This re-raises some huge concerns I have for the owners of these properties. If this type of damage is happening within about 12 months – how will they be in 5 years, if they’re still standing? I also have concerns as to the obligation that the building companies have. So far, they simply “cover-up” the damage. This is not addressing the clear structural problems with the building, and are they continuing with the cover-up of the problem just to get through their period obligation before they cut and run?

Where will this leave the owners of the properties, and how can the builders sleep at night? What can official bodies do to conduct a through investigation?

Are there any RA’ers who live in this complex, as I’d love to hear there thoughts – and make them aware of this massive problem if they were unaware.

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What we really need is some good earthquakes like China, well in the context of this post of course, that would sort out the men from the boys so to speak. Gungahlin (or lego land as I like to call it) would look like lego land after angry 4 year old stomped through it and the foreshore apartments would make a great underwater city to dive through in the lake. Well except for the visibility and the ear, nose and throat infection….

It’s a pity they don’t have a dodgy building industry setting in sim city 4 otherwise we could see the simulated effect on Thursday…..

Evenly damp garden beds around all four sides of a house will help in keeping the soil conditions stable, and stop the house shifting.

Hard to achieve these days though, with water restrictions and small blocks.

I used to look after maintenance for public housing in Brisbane. And with the recent drought, entire suburbs of houses were shifting so badly doors would not lock, windows not open, pipes need replacing etc.
Then in the wet season, the reverse would happen and the fixes we’d have done would need re-doing. The chippies and plumbers we employed knew what was required (knocking the places down and rebuilding) but capital expenditure wasn’t our job, simply maintenance.
It doesn’t surprise me similar things are happening in Canberra, especially as I bought a place in Gungahlin last decade so got to see how shoddy some of the work was locally.
But I’m guessing this goes on everywhere, and the punters handing over hundreds of thousands are mostly none the wiser.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy3:17 pm 23 Sep 08

I hear you on that one VYBerlina: but you did say “minor” These cracks I would estimate at about 10-15mm!

If you mean 10-15mm wide, then no way would I call that ‘minor’. At my house, I’ve noticed a couple of the shelves in the walk in wardrobe have come slightly off one wall (a couple of mm), and the paint has cracked very slightly around a couple of kitchen cupboard joins (some paint on the bit that flaked off solved the problem). And the driveway has some cracks also.

However, in some of the new units I’ve looked through (more for interest than serious intent), I’d say the standard of workmanship sucks. Obviously quick and dirty jobs. My approach, then, is to keep looking for structurally sound units of perhaps 8-10 years old that are in good condition (maybe even with light reno potential). If you’re seeking cracks appear almost overnight, though, and especially after rain, then I’d suggest they have some fairly serious issues.

tylersmayhem11:29 am 23 Sep 08

@harvyk1: cheers for your perspective. It’s first hand views like yours which I’ve been keen to read about. I agree with your comments about holding the inspectors and developers financially responsible for this shoddy work.

I think in the future, buyers of these new properties need to take o more active role in their investment from the very beginning. For instance, if you are informed that foam will be used as a foundation, don’t make the investment. Do some background checking on the work that the developers done previously – and if they have a bad reputation, don’t hand over any money in the first place.

Or perhaps for those new punters, find out who developed buildings like Proximity and just steer well clear of them and take your business elsewhere. Otherwise, you might not have an investment in 10 years time, other than high blood pressure and a high ple of rubble that you poured your well earned money in to.

Yeah, a couple of years ago I had the pleasure of living in a new townhouse. I don’t know what sort of bribe the developer paid to the inspector, but I expect it was a substantial amount. We had

– Power points wired up incorrectly (can anyone say safety issue \ fire hazard with me)
– Light in bathroom stopped working within a week (same problem as above)
– Hot water heater not working (Apparently kids came along and stole bits off it, just for some reason the developer decided there was no reason to fix it)
– Plumbing put in the wrong way around (Made turning taps on an interesting experience, especially once the hot water heater was fixed, by us)
– Painters who rather than remove masking tape, simply painted over the top (OK, the paint job looked ok for about 2 months before the tape started pealing off the wall)
– Door handles which fell apart within a week
– Garage door broke within a week

Not the sort of things which a new house should be like, and I could go on.

We decided after we moved out that a pack of trained monkeys could have done a better job than the builders who built the place which we moved into. They really need to crack down on building inspectors who don’t do their jobs properly. Start suing them big time (along with cheapskate developers and builders) and lets see how quickly the quality of developments and housing in Canberra goes up.

tylersmayhem10:48 am 23 Sep 08

Houses (and units) generally settle a bit over the first few years. Our house is now 6 years old and is showing a few minor signs of settling.

I hear you on that one VYBerlina: but you did say “minor” These cracks I would estimate at about 10-15mm! And it seems every time after it rains. Is it going to take a rainy night time collapse and casualties for anything serious to be done about this?

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy10:28 am 23 Sep 08

Houses (and units) generally settle a bit over the first few years. Our house is now 6 years old and is showing a few minor signs of settling.

That said, many Canberra builders seem to me to be fairly dodgy based on what I’ve heard from other places in Australia. All the units I’ve bought have been in complexes that are 8-10 years old (old enough to have settled and shown up any major problems, new enough that they are still attractive to people willing to spend inordinate amounts of cash ‘living the lifestyle’).

Bruce seems kinda overpriced to me anyway.

Woody Mann-Caruso9:57 am 22 Jul 08

Nah, just being a silly pr.ck. I hate grammar Nazis, so really have to stop doing it myself.

Our brick veneer house on the south side has a pretty large crack from the top corner of a window – lazy-ar.ed builders didn’t put expansion joints in the brickwork. When we first looked at it people told us horror stories about having to get the foundations pumped up and how much it was going to cost. However, the engineer who inspected the house said we could just knock out the wall and put in French doors or bay windows (or even rebrick it) for a fraction of the price, and that as it was brick veneer, cracks didn’t affect the structural strength of the building at all. It’s been five years now, and the crack doesn’t look much different, though we’ve noticed some more movement inside the house – door frames getting tighter, etc.

tylersmayhem8:56 am 22 Jul 08

Hax – I can’t agree that “you get what you pay for”. 400k for a lemon is paying a huge price, but very low quality.

Land prices go up, quality goes down.

You get what you pay for.. The impression I get is people are willing to go for these half-quality jobs to save a couple grand, but then they complain when it’s not perfect.

WE went to look at the display homes in the eco bit of Majura rise watson.

One of those was very dodgy too, with loose doorhandles, flaky paint and scratched windowsills. Nothing serious, but as the display home you’d think they’d put a bit more effort in.

Another one was better, but had no spot for a fridge in the massive kitchen.

I heard those upmarket places on the Kingston foreshaw (Granite Benchtops! Miele Appliances!) having very thin walls/floors so noise is a real issue. They use all these expensive decorative items but skimp on the really important stuff.

I remember years ago soem friends bought an investment unit in a new development in Jindabyne, it was so new the carpet smelled very new, yet the banister rails rattled, there were cracks in the brickwork, the windows didn’t fit in their holes properly and they’d put dowls on all the windows as a security measure!

Burying waste isn’t too out of the ordinary – this was also the case at the townhouse I bought back last century (1999).

I think you’re probably right on the money there tyler. Once the gloss rubs off these new dwellings they can be quite shabby underneath. I know one couple who became instantly smitten with the marble floors and european fittings in their Deakin townhouse but a year later and turns out the place is a lemon – and Deakin ain’t cheap either!

Leaking ceilings, bad electrics, freezing in winter, stifling in summer. The most dodgy bit of all was when doing their garden they discovered the builders had buried all their waste just inches below the topsoil. They have spent thousands more removing buried rubbish and bringing in new soil. I’ll take my chances with an older established house thanks.

tylersmayhem said :

Thanks Woody Mann-Caruso – I thought I got that saying wrong somehow, point taken.

I’m not sure if it’s called Proximity, but I think the apartments are at 20 Battye Street, near the AIS.

That’s Proximity. Next door to my fiance’s workplace.

This is a weird aside, and I’m sure most RA’ers will just stare at me blankly, but the name of that place (with the subtitle ‘X marks the spot’) really annoys me. It’s just stupid. Actually a lot of the new apartments in Canberra have retarded names, like Proximity and Space2Reside. They’re just.. farking stupid. I don’t know why.

Oh, and there’s another one from G-Fresh: “get’s”.

A world gone mad!

tylersmayhem, I believe WMC was also having a hard time believing your use of an apostrophe in “back’s”.

Developers hire shoddy builders at their peril. Unfortunately, even the best builders can stuff things up. The buyer get’s the house as is, and once title has passed so does liability for repairs and/or damages, providing the building met all approval requirements.

tylersmayhem2:37 pm 21 Jul 08

Thanks Woody Mann-Caruso – I thought I got that saying wrong somehow, point taken.

I’m not sure if it’s called Proximity, but I think the apartments are at 20 Battye Street, near the AIS.

are you talkin about Proximity…. ?

Holden Caulfield2:13 pm 21 Jul 08

For close to 10 years I’ve been amazed at the pricing apartments/medium density dwellings have been selling for in Canberra.

I think it’s about time I got the message. 😉

Woody Mann-Caruso2:03 pm 21 Jul 08

back’s up my belief, but also beckons my belief.

Now that beggars belief.

Just need a good earthquake in Bruce and we can sort the wheat from the chaff.

Too soon?

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