When is a defect a defect?

Residential property court cases often come down to disagreements between experts – one on behalf of an owner, one on behalf of a builder – arguing whether a defect is a defect.

These debates revolve about different perspectives about building features and how they should perform.

It’s not just an issue of semantics – if something is declared a “defect”, the builder will be held accountable; if not, it’s the owner’s responsibility.

And, with an average repair bill for bodies corporate increasing and under pressure from cladding replacement costs, the question “who pays?” is significant.

Often it comes down to how a deficit is defined, and sometimes a deficit occurs because you HAVEN’T done something, not because you did the wrong thing.

We’ve brought together two experts – Stephen Kip and Ari Akritidis – to discuss the views of opposing parties and answer the question:  “When is a defect a “defect”?”

Photo - Peter Collina (002)

Peter Collina

State Technical Manager - VIC, FPA Australia

Peter is a qualified civil engineer, registered building surveyor and domestic builder, with over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry, having worked for State and Local government, the private sector and private practice. Peter is currently the Chair of the Complex Site Taskforce which was set up by the Victorian Government to provide expert advice to local government and affected property owners following the Black Summer bushfires.

SK Photo

Stephen Kip

Fire Safety Engineer & Building Regulatory Consultant, SKIP Consulting

Stephen Kip has been a Director of SKIP Consulting, an engineering and regulatory consultancy firm for the past 14 years.

Prior to that he has held senior engineering positions with Warrington Fire Research (now Exova Warrington Fire) and the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) and was the deputy to the Building Commissioner at the Building Control Commission in Victoria, Australia.

He holds a degree in Building and a master’s degree in Engineering and has additional post graduate qualifications in Fire Safety Engineering and Building Project Management. He is a board member of the Australian Building Codes Board, an Adjunct Associate Professor of the academic staff at the School of Engineering at Victoria University, a board member of the Bushfire Building Council of Australia, an Honorary Fellow of the academic staff of the University of Melbourne School of Architecture, and a Fellow of Engineers Australia.


Ari Akritidis

Managing Director, Akritidis Group Building Consultants

Ari is managing Director of Akritidis Group Building Consultants, a medium sized Victorian building surveying and fire safety consultancy firm providing services throughout Australia.

Ari specialises in ‘Expert Witness Investigations and Reports’ and does so for some of Australia’s largest and most prominent legal firms regarding matters that are before the courts.

Ari has been a registered building surveyor for nearly 25 years and a registered fire safety engineer since 2002.

His experience spans across all facets of statutory and consulting building surveying and fire safety engineering on all manner of complex buildings.

Some of his industry achievements include:

  • Member of the Building Appeals Board (Vic) for 12 years;
  • Member of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (Vic) for 3 years;
  • Member of the Building Practitioners Board (Vic) for 4 years;
  • Current member of the 6 person ‘Experts Implementation Panel’ contracted by the ABCB to provide expert advice on the ‘Shergold Weir Building Confidence report’;
  • Current Victorian representative on the AIBS Technical Specialist Advisory Group (TSAG).

Previous Lecturer at Swinburne University and author of the course notes for the module ‘Structures at Elevated Temperatures