VIC: Q&A Who is responsible for balcony repairs?

Question: 1 in 5 apartments in our building have balcony problems. The developer has carried out the repair of balcony tiles previously, but refuses to do more. Who is responsible for balcony repairs?

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On two occasions since buying my apartment in 2014, tiles have popped or cracked on the balcony due to movement in the building. Most recently last month the developer let me know they have carried out the repair of balcony tiles in good faith but aren’t obliged to do this anymore and it will be my expense going forward.

I’m quite sure this may continue to happen as 1 in 5 apartments in our building have been affected at some time and I am worried about the cost. Who is responsible for balcony repairs? Is there any type of insurance I can get that would cover the repair of balcony for my apartment?

Answer: Most insurers will have exclusions for Building Defects. Developers in Victoria have immunity and I’m surprised they have assisted at all.

Most insurers will have exclusions for Building Defects. Developers in Victoria have immunity and I’m surprised they have assisted at all.

The builder should be contacted if the building is less than 10 years old, Within 10 years from the date of the Occupancy Permit or the Certificate of Final Inspection.

The builder can be held responsible under the Statutory Warranties: Section 8 of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995, when building works do not comply with:

  • The Contract
  • The Planning Permit
  • The Building Permit
  • The National Construction Code (NCC) – Formerly BCA
  • The Building Act or its Regulations
  • Relevant Australian Standards

All domestic building work must be carried out:

  • In a proper and workmanlike manner and in accordance with the plans and specifications
  • In accordance with and comply with all laws and legal requirements
  • With reasonable care and skill
  • So that the home will be suitable for occupation on completion
  • Materials supplied will be good and suitable for purpose

If Builder is in breach of a section 8 warranty:

  • The works can be considered defective/non-compliant works
  • Owners can seek damages
  • Damages equate to the costs for the works to be rectified
  • Subject to a test of necessity and reasonableness
  • Necessary to produce conformity
  • Rectification would not be unreasonable

If the building is less than 3 stories, Building Warranty Insurance can be used if the Builder is Dead, Disappeared or Insolvent (DDI) or if the builder fails to comply with a Tribunal or Court order after 28 days.