Tuesday, May 3

Houses and Building

There is a lot of discussion at the moment re the "housing market" in Australia at the moment.  Housing prices are going up and up, and often the houses are being bought by investors who don't necessarily put tenants in their newly purchased homes.  The number of empty homes in Australia is rising, and we do have a housing shortage.  This article is interesting.

I have written about the Chinese experience where millions of Chinese apartments are empty, and the Chinese are happy with that. I can remember my former student telling me that it was wise NOT to have tenants as, despite getting rental payments, the cost of maintenance of an apartment is such that it is more lucrative, apparently, to just let it remain empty.

I was surprised to hear that, and even more surprised to learn that the same thing is happening in Australia now.  Is it the Chinese that are behind this behaviour that is now more common in Australia?

I watched Four Corners on the ABC last night, which featured stories about the housing market in Australia.  A young lady with $150,000 cash deposit has been outbid every time she went to buy a house.  Because the investors are able to access more $$$'s from apparently over-enthusiastic lending practices by banks, which are lending high amounts to many people who will not be able to maintain payments if the market crashes.  The banks are not at risk of losing their money, but the folk who overborrowed, or whose documents have been apparently doctored by unknown persons, are at very high risk.

Also, there was a brief report on the standard of building.  Tradies are often using inferior product, or rushing through building tasks more concerned with finishing the job "near enough is good enough" and increasing their profits.  This is an issue that I have spoken about on many occasions and few people have taken me seriously.

I moved into a new duplex three years ago, and have had to endure problems as a result of poor building, or cheap product.  The first summer I was here, the air conditioning didn't work.  It appears that when the property was being built thieves stole the outside motor for the air conditioner and it was replaced by another one, and not connected properly.  The water tank was not put in properly - so that there is 15% of the tank that will never hold water as the overflow pipe was installed lower than it should have been.  Also the pump broke down, and also other items IN the tank were faulty.

You can see the overflow pipe - apparently it should have been a foot or so higher.


Over and over I have had to call the real estate agent to get repairs done.  The smoke alarm system was faulty - was completely replaced within months of me moving in.  I have had electrical problems too - with light switches arking.  (is that the word?)

The air conditioning motor is so low that one cannot mow the lawn under it.

Also, the air conditioning unit, on the outside of the wall (this is the one that was replaced after the earlier one was stolen) is so low that I cannot mow the lawn.  Did anyone ever consider this? 

Clearly to me there are several issues with Australian housing.  Certainly young people are being priced out of the housing market - though I recall that the same story was headlines when I was much younger and looking at getting into the housing market.

I do wish though that more care was taken by "building inspectors".  My father was a building supervisor, and not well liked for being so pedantic.  I recall that when he went to a new area, where, apparently, money was changing hands between the supervisor before him, to allow the building to be approved without being up to the standard required.  The builders did not get paid unless and until my father was happy with the work being done.  The builders who had gotten away with shabby work previously were most upset and threatened my father, but he won in the end.  Sadly, I doubt if there are many supervisors who are as pedantic as Dad was.

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