Cracks appearing on the Aussie dream – and its not just the housing prices

Two years ago I wrote ‘Can you afford to live in Sydney?’.

The feature documented Sydney’s exorbitant housing prices, stagnant salaries and increasing youth debt.

Fast forward to now, where a sudden dramatic slide in those Sydney housing prices, combined with my own desire to buy a property this year, as well as a scathing 60 minutes report on some of the city’s apparent cowboy development operations and patch-up jobs – and it seems like an appropriate time to drag my feature out of the archives and have a closer inspection as to what’s happening in 2019.

Lets start with the word inspection. We have inspectors as a matter of safety procedure. It ensures codes of conduct are adhered to and a governing standard is retained. While that might sound somewhat boring and unsexy when all you want is an affordable space to call your own, its that boredom that keeps you from at best, buying a faulty property, and at worst – buying a dangerous one.

Australia has always been known for its strict policies and impeccable record of safety. From OH&S in the workplace, to food and beverage standards and servings and seemingly until recently – building and property management. Is the time being taken to conduct necessary inspections across new developments popping up around Sydney and Melbourne, or are we in a hurry to build and make our most populated cities more affordable than they were 3-5 years ago? Admittedly, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been urgently trying to make affordable housing happen during her office, but at what cost is that being rolled-out?

Are we cutting corners to make it more affordable now or are we offering long term solutions?

Recent reports of fires and building mis-management has the potential to turn Australian dreams into Australian nightmares.

Amongst other incidents, residents of the newly-built, 36-storey building Opal were forced to evacuate due to safety fears following significant cracking. Many of the residents have not been able to resell or break even – and in some cases, are being offered just half of what they’d paid for the property.

I can’t presume to know what inspections are taking place across the city or to what degree of accuracy they’re accountable for, but I can say this; Inspectors across some industries are being drastically reduced. In many trades, where there were previously 35 inspectors, there are now just 3. Furthermore, in the majority of cases, those employed to conduct final inspections are the same people who’ve been hired to do the initial install. It then naturally begs the question; in your life experience, how good would you say people are at admitting fault in their work when it directly affects the movement of a project being taken to the next stage of completion?

Are we selfishly covering up botchy work to keep things moving and effectively, keep ourselves in work?

Where do we go from here?

What developments can we trust?

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