Did you know that you cannot insure buildings over three stories high in Australia? On Sunday 16 June apartment owners and renters were locked out of a 122 unit apartment tower called Mascot Towers, in Sydney. Due to serious structural weaknesses, residents were rendered treeless like so many koalas, and with little more assistance. In Melbourne on Sunday 23 June, residents and shop owners in a 237 apartment building known as "Liberty Tower" were told to leave because the flooding had cut power throughout the building and damaged the lift. Apparently the water rose to 1.5m in some parts of the basement.
Faulty towers Australia may require immigration shut-down
It seems that the Australian construction industry has become so unregulated, corrupt, incompetent, and uninsurable, that residents buy high-rise apartments at their own risk in Australia. The risks involved: huge financial loss and costs, homelessness, and injury, are themselves a reason to dramatically slow down development and the huge immigration levels that drive the reckless, 'self'-regulated construction that now characterises Australia. If Australian governments cannot make sure that high-rises are actually long-term viable and insurable as such, then developers should not be given permission to build them. That means that the mad schemes for population growth via mass immigration need to stop, pending significant changes in law and practice.
Architects Geoff Hanmer, Steve Gleeson and Mark Maugham discussed the following in comments at https://theconversation.com/buck-passing-on-apartment-building-safety-leaves-residents-at-risk-119000:
- Home warranty insurance is not available for buildings over three storeys high in NSW. (Neither is it available in Victoria and probably other states.)
- Since construction companies often have short lives, a 25 year insurance policy should be purchased by the developer, upfront. It should be lodged as part of the final handover of the building to a government department. This would mean that the 'department' has the job of looking after the records and of paying out, and that the process would not be affected by change of ownership. The beneficiaries would be the apartment owners. It would be in the interests of the insurance company to ensure that the building is properly designed for a long life.
Probably all buildings should have this kind of insurance that benefits owners.
- That there is a need to employ architects and give them authority to approve the final product, since they are held responsible for its defects. Apparently at the moment the developer is deemed to be the 'consumer' and carries no responsibility. So, if the developer had to take out insurance for the rectification of defects, they would probably act more responsibly. It has been suggested that insurance companies should require a building professional to represent them onsite to ensure quality control before they give the developer insurance.
Until such changes are implemented, it seems to me that the 'program' for high density in Australian cities and suburbs needs to halt. Since this is the program that is supposed to retrofit a doubling of the population (and more, sky's the limit) in this country, the mass immigration of cities full of people needs to stop, because we simply won't be able to house them.
A case in point would be the proposed redevelopment with residential towers of the old Gas and Fuel Site known as Highett Gasworks. If the Victorian State Government has its way, and changes the height limit for the public land at 1136-1138 Nepean Highway, Highett to 26m, then the site will be doomed to be covered in uninsurable high-rises. As it is, any densification of this public land reduces the ratio of public open green space per person.