FLAT CHAT WRAP

Flat Chat Wrap 52 - Our strata year of living dangerously

It’s getting to the end of the year so we thought we’d look back at the last 12 months of apartment living in Australia. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot more low points than highlights, starting with the Opal Tower shambles which saw families evacuated from the building a sections started to crack and crumble. Then there was the Mascot Towers fiasco where the whole building started to sink into the swamps of south Sydney, and two blocks in Alexandria and Erskineville that had been declared uninhabitable by local council inspectors. Ok, there was a smidgeon of good news, with claims that the prices of brand new apartments and golden oldies of a similar size have never been closer, presumably as demand for the former drops and the latter soars. Co-host Sue Williams tells listeners what to look for if they are determined to buck the trends, take advantage of the slump and buy a brand new unit. We heard about developers being so sure of the quality of their work that they are offering warranties above and beyond their statutory six years for major defects. It will be interesting to see if anyone actually claims and how that pans out. We also heard about the trend towards renovating and extending older blocks – with their high ceilings and solid walls – to take advantage of their solid construction and great locations while upgrading all their infrastructure to make homes that are better than new. Looking at trends in strata living, we noted the return of shape-shifting and a new danger for new block buyers – embedded networks.  That’s where a developer gets some essential component – like electricity, a storm water retention tank or lifts – installed for free provided they persuade owners to sign up to a long and expensive supply or maintenance contract. And the flammable cladding threat just got a little worse with NCAT in NSW ruling that biowood cladding is potentially as dangerous as the notorious aluminium cladding over which there has been such a fuss. In politics, we saw two state elections in NSW  Victoria (last November) and one federal poll and none of them were good news for strata residents – although renters did OK in Victoria … or they would have if half the residential lets hadn’t been handed over to Airbnb and their ilk. The Building Commissioner in NSW is starting to feel like a token appointment, having told dudded apartment buyers that they should have been more careful in their choices.  And still, neither the government nor opposition are accepting responsibility for having taken developer cash for decades, in a trade -off for the safety and integrity of our homes. It’s all there … and more … in the Flat Chat Wrap.
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