A new unit or townhouse comes with time-limited warranties that the building is fit for purpose and has been built with due care and skill. Under NSW home building laws, these protections apply even if they have not been specifically included in the building contract.

Fixing strata building defects can be costly and time-consuming. As time goes on, it may be harder to distinguish genuine defects from ordinary ‘wear and tear’ or maintenance issues, whether on common property or the individual lot owner’s property.

Avoid the pitfalls and help prevent potentially long or costly legal action. Become informed along with your scheme to identify and act on potential defects early to meet the warranty timeframes.


A defect must result from defective design, defective or faulty workmanship, defective materials or a failure to comply with the structural performance requirements of the National Construction Code. All building defects are covered by the builder for a period of two years from the time of an occupancy certificate being issued for the premises.


A two-step test decides if a problem is a ‘major defect’ asking:

  1. Is the defect a major element of the building? (a fire safety system, waterproofing, or something key to the building’s stability or structure; eg. foundations, footings, walls, roofs, beams or columns.)
  2. Will the defect cause or be likely to cause part or all of the building becoming uninhabitable or unable to be used for its intended purpose? Or, will the defect cause or be likely to cause the collapse or destruction of the building, or part of it?
    Major defects are covered by the builder for a period of 6 years from the time of the occupancy certificate being issued for the premises.

The most common defects in new premises are water proofing, wall cracks, tiling and roof leaks.
If you are unsure if an item in your premises is a defect, you may wish to check with the NSW Guide to Standards and Tolerances. This guide has been developed for use by builders and building owners as a convenient reference for acceptable standards of workmanship in domestic building construction. It is intended to address areas that are not prescribed under legislation or under a domestic building contract. It should be understood that this is a guide only and that all other documents prescribing statutory and contractual requirements, relevant to the contract, take precedence over this guide. For the most updated version, please check the NSW Fair Trading website.

Stress free strata management in the greater Sydney region