Defect Management - a useful guide for NSW

Written on the 16 January 2018 by Samantha Repice

Defect management can be a difficult process and there is often a great deal of confusion in ascertaining what is and what isn't a defect.

To assist you we have attached a guide to the NSW Standards and Tolerances.

We have summarised some common issues for your convenience. There are several other defects listed in the document which we highly recommend you read.

  • When inspecting surfaces, the defect needs to be visible from a distance of 1.5 metres unless it is a fixture or an appliance whereby the viewing range is 600 mm (page 13).
  • Cracks in concrete pavers must be wider than 1.5mm (Page 18). This is generally the width of a credit card. If you can place your credit in the gap it generally means the crack is wider than 1.5mm and is a defect.
  • Cracks in concrete slabs between 1mm to 2mm need to be reported and monitored over 12 months. Cracks wider than 2mm are considered a defect (Page 23).
  • Damage to masonry walls between 1mm to 5mm need to be reported and monitored over 12 months. Damage over 5mm in masonry walls are considered a defect (Page 24).
  • Voids and holes in the mortar of masonry walls is considered a defect (Page 30).
  • Roofing and accessories are defective if they leak under normal weather conditions (Page 37).
  • Water hammer is a defect unless if caused by the builder's workmanship (Page 40).
  • Window and door frames are defective if when closed they allow the entry of water (Page 45).
  • During the documented maintenance period after completion, handles, locks and latches are defective if they do not operate as intended by the manufacturer. If the maintenance period is not documented, three months is the assumed time period after completion. After three months failure is not a defect unless it is caused by the builder's workmanship (Page 45).
  • Cracking in plasterboard and cornices that is greater than 1mm is a defect (Page 50).
  • Nail popping in plasterboard is a defect if it occurs within the first 24 months (Page 50).
  • Cabinets doors and drawer fronts are defective if they are not aligned at completion or do not have a consistent gap between doors and drawers. Where the limit for defects is not documented it is taken to be 6 months from completion (page 51).
  • Tiles are defective if they are cracked, pitted, chipped, scratched, loose or drummy on completion tiling that fails because of defective building work in framing or slab construction (page 53).
  • Grout is defective if it is not uniform in colour and is not smooth without voids (Page 54).
  • Paint is defective is blemishes such as paint runs, paint sags, wrinkling, dust, starved painted areas, colour variation, surface cracks, irregular and course brush marks, blistering, uniformity of gloss level and other irregularities are visible from 1.5 meters (page 56).
  • Balconies, shower recesses and other wet areas are defective if they leak or do not have appropriate drainage (Page 57).
  • Calcification and Efflorescence caused by water coming from a deck or balcony that occurs on walls below or beside the deck or balcony; or that appears in mortar joints of the deck or balcony tiling is a defect if it is due to defective or missing flashings, membrane, a damp proof course DPC or faulty design (Page 59).
  • Floors that squeak in trafficable areas within 24 months are defective (Page 61).
  • The owner is responsible for arranging repairs to for appliance fittings where the builder has provided the warranty documents to the owner (Page 65).
  • The responsibility of controlling condensation where the requirements of the building code of Australia have been complied with is the responsibility of the owner (page 65).
  • Scratches, fractures, chips or surface blemishes on glazing and mirrors are defective if they exist at handover and can be seen from a normal viewing position. (page 65).
  • Roofs, gutters, flashing, skylights, window and door frame joint or seals are defective if they leak under normal weather conditions (Page 54).
  • Building works are defective where windows are not clean, floors are not swept, mopped of vacuumed as appropriate, tiles, sinks, basin trough baths etc. are not cleaned and shelving, drawers and cupboards ready to use (Page 66).

The Guide is not a legal document and is not intended to replace the relevant provisions of the Building Code of Australia or Australian Standards. The Guide is intended to provide the reader with an understanding of the tolerances that a building professional will consider in determining whether a building element has been installed/constructed to an acceptable standard. The Guide should be regarded as an advisory resource rather than a series of prescriptive definitions.

Samantha RepiceAuthor:Samantha Repice
About: Samantha Repice has over 13 years' industry experience in managing residential buildings, government sites, mixed use schemes, commercial buildings, industrial sites, Building Management Committees, Strata Management Committees and Community Associations. Calling upon her experience in facility management and industry insight across a broad range of sectors, Samantha Repice established her own company in order to provide flexible options for full-time and part time facilities management as well as cleaning services, to a portfolio of key clients.
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