Below is reprint of my article submitted to Sourceable
After over a decade of building inspections in commercial and domestic construction, the most astonishing find is the blind trust in the builders and the owners with mist in their eyes throwing bags of money at a builder in naïve hope that they will get what they have paid for. In truth most of them will (almost) but many don’t, many are short changed, some seriously and a few unlucky ones (read foolish) end up with a complete disaster, a bad job, blown budget, wrecked health (perhaps marriage too) and a few die from stress.
How can otherwise completely sane people (many well educated ones too) get it so wrong? I can only put it down to human nature. Once I had shopkeeper show me apartment renovation quote written on a lunch bag and sealed with a handshake. Needless to say builder wasn’t registered, job abandoned and owner did his money. Another shopkeeper (well known) entered into cost plus contract where he had no means of checking who was on the job for how many hrs, he was whistling Dixie on substantially inflated invoices that could never be verified or challenged.
It gets more serious, recently I was engaged to produce estimate to rectify defects to defeat final claim from a builder in liquidation on 30+apatment block. It was easy, I blew his claim by over 1M, How? I found occupied apartment building with undersized fire doors, incomplete smoke seals, missing fire collars, incomplete fire protection, unauthorised departures from design documentation and unauthorised substitutions (cost stripping). How this building got occupancy permit was a mystery. The building was a death trap and a disaster waiting to happen. Developers had no idea. Why? Because no one was checking anything.
On another 30+ apartment block owners have been putting up with chronically leaking and damp building for nearly a decade with occasionally builder turning up with a silicone gun. Again I found cost stripping with builder departing from design drawings and detailing, some architectural features simply omitted. Balconies were leaking and some units had floating floors replaced 4 times.
Regularly I find poorly constructed and incomplete fire separation walls. If you live in apartment will you be sleeping easy tonight? Will you wake up tomorrow?
It comes down to misplaced trust in the builder and in the regulatory system, which should protect us but it does not. Trust is a blindfold and reputation is a mirage that could cost you dearly. But it is not at all about trust. It’s about business. Your investment is your business and you cant run a business on trust. Will your bank trust you to pay back your loan without signing mortgage documents?
Building is on site production system and needs independent checking and review at critical points. Ignore it at your peril. Or you can be like a bank, check, verify, correct, enforce.
You ought to be able to trust building control but my experience in Victoria says otherwise.
Mathematics is simple. Save hundreds of dollars by skimping on independent inspections and loose thousands, perhaps tens of thousands and perhaps lot more than that.