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Video: Property off the plan - Residents' rights hijacked in an unregulated industry

This is the second in a series of interviews with Nerrida Pohl about lack of proper regulation of the construction and development industry in Australia. Nerrida talks about the 30 story appartment building in Victoria, where she bought two appartments 'off the plan'. The building is a shared commercial/private one, that is meant to share one plan, but Nerrida has discovered with some amazement that there are actually two different plans. Although the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) ruled, in a dispute between the developer and Stonington Council, that residents would share the building's loading bay with commercial occupants, this right was sold off by a member of the building management for $1.00 per annum peppercorn rent. This has meant that moving vans park at the front entrance, causing traffic problems in a very busy area. The front doors are propped open so that furniture etc can be brought into the building, creating a security risk. Furthermore, the ''Residents Meeting Room' specified in the plan, has been occupied by a real-estate agency. This means that residents have no formal or designated place to meet, communicate, and organise for their own benefit. It is especially hard because many appartment owners dwell overseas and cannot easily be contacted by other owners who, when they ask, are only given overseas mailing addresses, which might be PO boxes or legal firms in distant cities.

Video: "Lies, spin and secrecy" - How government & the law mistreat Australian building consumers

"People end up with nothing because they really don't believe we have a system as bad as we do." Consumers are unprotected in Australia's building disaster. "You may have a house that's being demolished, but you still have a block of land. If you've got any superannuation or anything in the bank, at least hang on to that." Anne Paten of Victorian Building Action Group (VBAG) talks about how the system that's supposed to help building consumers actually bleeds the victims of the industry even more. People qualify for insurance, but never get the money. They go to VCAT and are sent away with nothing. The results are bankruptcy, divorces, and suicides. Substantial reports and inquiries are removed from the internet. Australians need to realise that the government won't help them; they have to join together and help each other.

New European retrofit kits cut energy use in buildings by 80%

We get a lot of commercial press releases at candobetter.net and we don't use many. However this project which markets renovation for energy use reduction, rather than tearing buildings down and constructing new ones, is very interesting. The iNSPiRe project is a four year FP7 project that brings together 24 partners from the combined fields of research and development, industry, small business and not-for-profit organisations, to tackle the problem of high-energy consumption. The research will produce systemic renovation packages that can be applied to existing buildings to reduce primary energy consumption to lower than 50 kWh/m2/year.

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