You may have noticed over the past year that there have been, shall we say, some fairly significant issues with new apartment developments in Australia. Most famously, Opal Tower in Sydney Olympic Park was evacuated on Christmas Eve last year after residents reported hearing loud cracking noises from within the structure, which is generally not something you want from your brand new apartment building.

After a series of similar incidents across the country, governments across Australia have been making a serious effort to determine what has gone wrong with our recent apartment boom. Tonight’s Four Corners on the ABC digs into the problem, and comes to this conclusion: it’s all quite fucked.

According to a study by Deakin and Griffith universities, which surveyed buildings constructed after 2003 in Australia’s east coast states, found that more than 70 percent had at least one defect. In New South Wales, that number jumps up to 97 percent. The most common defects were in waterproofing and fire safety systems. Reassuring!

The problem is bad enough that Bronwyn Weir, co-author of a huge report commissioned by building ministers from state and federal governments, says that she straight up would not buy a new apartment in Australia, and urges prospective buyers to look for older stock.

“If I was going to be investing in an apartment, I’d buy an older one. It’s common sense, isn’t it? It’s just logical,” she told Four Corners.

“I wouldn’t buy a newly built apartment. No.”

Weir recommends looking for apartments that are at least five years old, on the basis that by that age any structural problems are likely to have been identified.

The conversation now turns to how the building industry can be more firmly regulated to ensure this doesn’t happen in future. But we’ve already had our apartment boom, so it leaves to be seen how significant the problem really is long-term.

Four Corners airs tonight at 8:30pm AEST on the ABC if you’re keen to see more.

Image: AAP