While the ACT government deserves to be commended for its admittedly belated moves to address building quality concerns in recent years, it is a fact there is still a long way to go.
Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the damning Equity Economics report, released this week, that claims as much as $260 million would have to be spent to fix structural and safety problems in apartment blocks built across Canberra since 2009.
According to the report, commissioned by the national office of the CFMEU, the national cost to rectify defective apartment buildings would come to a mind boggling $6.2 billion.
It estimates as many as 157 Canberra apartment blocks have been fitted with potentially combustible aluminium cladding. Combustible cladding was blamed for the rapid spread of the Grenfell Tower blaze in London which claimed 72 lives and has been linked to at least one tower fire in Melbourne.
The study, which extrapolated from published research on building defects across Australia since 2009, has no good news for ACT apartment owners.
Despite the territory being smaller than either South Australia or Western Australia, our estimated repair bill exceeds the individual estimates for both those states.
This seems to confirm what many critics have been saying for years; that some local developers, planners, builders, certifiers and regulators have been performing well under par for longer than we care to think.
Equity Economics said it could cost as much as $176 million to replace the combustible cladding alone; that is more than half the estimated net cost of the Mr Fluffy buyback.
A further $69 million would need to be spent on water leaks, $17 million on structural defects and $6 million on fire safety.
Equity Economics said it could cost $176 million to replace the combustible cladding; that's over half the likely net cost of the Mr Fluffy buyback.
The essence of the report is that although the ACT government is entitled to some credit for a raft of recent initiatives, including the launch of a construction sector website that provides a one-stop information shop for consumers and the industry, the years of apparent neglect and indifference have left a long tail of repair issues that must be addressed.
It is not enough, as the government does on the new website, to tick off on a list of 43 different changes, variations and reforms and to say that things will be better in the future. Care, attention and resources need to be directed to resolving the long list of sub-optimal projects, quality complaints and safety concerns that has been allowed to build up on its watch.
Canberrans who invest in a home, particularly one in a high rise apartment block of the type now favoured by our urban planners and developers, should be able to be confident that their building project has been closely monitored for quality and safety from inception right through to execution.
Ongoing initiatives, such as the current series of information sessions on the draft builders' code of practice, the recent adoption of the national construction code and changes to the way in which building licences are issued are all welcome. They are not, however, sufficient to turn this ship around by themselves.
The ACT has never been short of regulation. The struggle has actually been with implementation and enforcement.
What Canberra needs is a regulatory environment in which developers, planners, builders and certifiers understand that if they sacrifice quality for profit they will be punished for it.