Cracking up? Associations between building defects and mental health in new Australian apartment buildings

Sarah Foster, Paula Hooper, Hazel Easthope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The health implications of poorly constructed apartments are a global concern. Australian cities have experienced rapid increases in apartment development; and like many international cities, there have been widespread reports of construction defects. While there is anecdotal evidence about the stress defects cause residents, the health impacts of these specific problems have received little attention. This study investigates whether defects in contemporary multi-owned apartments–built during Australia’s recent apartment construction boom–are associated with poorer mental health. Residents (n = 1195) in relatively new apartment buildings (n = 114) from areas of low, mid and high disadvantage in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth completed questions on building defects and mental health. For every additional defect, mental wellbeing reduced by 0.45 points (p = 0.003) and risk of psychological distress increased by 33% (p = 0.000). There were no differences by tenure or area disadvantage. The association between defects and mental health may be aggravated by the bureaucratic obstacles faced by owner-occupiers and rental tenants when seeking or negotiating rectification work. To mitigate the negative mental health impacts of building defects in strata/condominium buildings, policy interventions are needed that minimise the incidence and severity of defects and streamline rectification processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1152-1163
Number of pages12
JournalCities and Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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