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The advice from Owners Corporation Network spokesman Stephen Goddard could not have been more blunt: Don’t buy apartments off the plan. His actual words in an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney's dirty strata secrets emerge through cracks in Mascot Towers -See post below for full story) were “prudent purchasers cannot buy strata ‘off the plan’ or, given that most defects emerge within a decade of construction, any residential strata building less than 10 years of age.” Mr Goddard, a strata lawyer and veteran of many a unit block battle against dodgy developers, has a point, notwithstanding the fact that the Mascot Tower that started falling apart a couple of weekends ago is actually 11 years old. All that shows is that even extreme caution will not protect you if you put your money into the wrong chunk of concrete and glass. The OCN and this website and newspaper column have been making those sorts of noises for years, largely ignored or dismissed by a conga line of training-wheel Fair Trading ministers, some of whom have in the past seemed more concerned about the party donations (rather than guarantees) that they could extract from developers. Their consistent failure to impose any sort of quality control on developers and builders have led us into a situation where we are simply waiting for the next brick to fall. The one thing on which all observers agree is that Opal and Mascot Towers are not the last examples of government and corporate failure that we will see.