Apartment cracking crisis spreads from Sydney to Melbourne

After a string of major faults have been uncovered across apartment developments in Sydney, the high-rise crisis has now spread to Melbourne, with residents reporting cracking noises and defects in the new 101-storey tower, Apartment 108:

Residents are forking out as much as $2,600 a month for a two-bedroom apartment, but have complained of a number of construction defects at Southbank tower Australia 108.

One resident, who spoke on the promise of anonymity, told The Age the loud creaking noises kept them awake at night.

‘I woke up at 4am and I was really thinking, “Do I have to leave the building?” they said.

Photographs from inside the units show cracks appearing on the walls and leading towards the ceiling.

Power outages, malfunctioning lifts and jammed windows have also been added to the growing list of problems with the tower.

‘The building is of such poor quality that I can’t even open two windows at the same time because they hit each other because the building is curved,’ one resident said.

The building manager said he had received up to 30 complaints about cracks in the walls alone.

The residential apartment is still under construction, with only 75 of the 101 levels completed.

Once the edifice is completed in 2020, it is set to become the tallest residential building in the Southern Hemisphere.

Meanwhile, Fairfax’s Elizabeth Farrelly has given the development industry both barrels for creating the crisis:

For 20 years they’ve all been at it. The supply-and-demand-club – the Property Council, Urban Taskforce, developers and government – all frantically demanding more and more deregulation. And for whom? Oh, for us.

In October 2016 then-treasurer Scott Morrison told the Urban Development Institute that loosening building laws to build higher, bigger and faster would help solve the housing crisis. Last October the Property Council screamed that “apartment red tape threatens affordability”. As recently as March this year the Urban Taskforce insisted that NSW should review its planning system to “remove red tape”. And in June, the Institute for Public Affairs welcomed “the Morrison government’s economic reform agenda to cut red tape”.

In effect they insisted that legitimising rubbish housing was the key to affordability. Developers, went the unstated theory, couldn’t be expected to do anything but gouge the market. To build anything affordable, therefore, they had essentially to be subsidised – with dodgy materials, permissive planning, outsize buildings, suspect certification and professionals more flexible than your average yoga-mat. They had to be allowed to produce crap.

Except that suddenly – 10 years on – these crap homes, for which almost all public protection has been ritually burned, don’t look terribly affordable at all. In fact, they look like cynical, developer-fattening honey-traps set to impoverish families, communities, and the construction industry for years to come.

And suddenly they’re all pretending they never pushed for it. Suddenly Meriton wants immediate reform to stop substandard buildings. The Urban Taskforce supports Shergold and Weir’s calls for reregulation, clear materials standards and independent certification. The Premier concedes self-regulation has failed and promises a Building Commissioner. Parliament sets up an upper house inquiry.

The problem is, Elizabeth Farrelly is one of the cheerleaders behind mass immigration, which is flooding Australia’s big cities with people and necessitating the fast construction of shoddy high-rises:

Full? Is Sydney full? Is that even a meaningful idea? Every time I critique Sydney’s development culture – and yes, it’s not all that infrequent – a small phalanx of loons crawls from the woodwork to insist it’s all about population. Immigration, they never tire of repeating. That’s the pachyderm in the chamber. If we could just put a wall around Sydney, limit the population, everything would be fine.

Until now I’ve resisted the obvious urge to riposte on the assumption that this was just a fringe, lunatic or otherwise. You know the types. The anonymous Twitterati who hide behind pseudonyms and pseudo-arguments but betray themselves by spelling “their” with two e’s. Now it seems this fringe has achieved majority. More than two-thirds of Sydney, says this week’s poll…

Suburbia was founded on a kind of universal solipsism. Every house was a castle, every family alone in its Eden. But this myth, seductive as may be, is clearly childish and unsustainable, as well as blindingly inaccurate. Cities comprised of suburbs are like families of only children, characterised by a kind of spoilt-bratism. Hence the nimby…

Hypocrites like Elizabeth Farrelly are part of the problem, since they have given cover to the mass immigration policy, which has underpinned the dodgy construction.

For around a decade, both Sydney and Melbourne have grown by around 200,000 people (combined) each year. This extreme population growth has required huge volumes of apartments to be built very quickly, which necessarily has resulted in corners being cut and build quality being compromised. It has been made worse by a wave of foreign developers of questionable quality, though that is not the case for Australia 108.

There is no fixing this without also fixing the population explosion.

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