Page 24 - Final Report-8 NO TRANSPARENCY

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Resilient urban systems:
a socio-technical study of community scale climate change adaptation initiatives
“Paying for the service is fine but the actual water usage to me is, you shouldn’t have to
pay for the recycled water usage if it’s no more than what you’ve used in your normal
water… even the neighbours are the same thing. They’re like, ‘Why are we paying for it
twice?’” (A5)
However, most risks identified by the interviewees at Aurora are attributed to perceived attempts by builders
to keep costs down, most especially in the choice of solar hot water systems:
“When it gets too hot they [solar hot water unit], get overheated and they burst…so when
I went to pay for that first one I said would you replace the other one too while you’re at
it.. and they said no it’s not quite fully gone. So I said, I shouldn’t have to pay another
$340 for you guys to come out again you know, but I ended up having to so I wasn’t
thrilled about that.” (A13)
“It was a cheap house and now I know why, you know.” (A13)
“They [the builders] have tried to go a little el cheapo than what they should here,
obviously because they want it to be affordable.” (A12)
“I’ve learnt things about how they, in order to get their six star rating, you know they can
go for the bare minimum of a certain thing in order to get it. And I just kind of think oh
well, is the rating system even worthwhile considering that.” (A7)
These comments and experiences are likely to be typical of volume-built housing development in suburban
In contrast, cost was rarely mentioned as a risk among WestWyck residents, and there is the sense that
any faults are dealt with as a community, with costs distributed fairly (although WestWyck and its systems
are more established, they still encounter periodic faults and maintenance requirements, as reported even
by newer residents). Instead, the most notable system-related risk for residents at WestWyck is the novelty
of the systems themselves and the implications of this for system repairs, maintenance, and upgrades. As
these householders note:
“If something goes wrong, you don’t have that infrastructure. How many people know
how this particular system, hydraulic system works? I’ll tell you. There are three people in
Melbourne. Full stop. I’m feeling that I am in a situation where I can’t fix it, I’m dependent
upon getting parts from overseas that may take months.” (W2)
“It’s really reliant upon a number of other people, some of whom we’ve never met who
installed them and they, they know how to work them.” (W6)
Maintenance contracts make a significant contribution to a greater sense of security in
this respect, as well as additional measures to ensure that the community is somewhat
buffered against future costs:
“It makes you feel way more safe living here than if I was just in a house and didn’t know
my neighbours. We’ve got in our body corporate we’ve just started a sinking fund with the
idea that that money would be there to upgrade technology.” (W4)
In relation to the issue of costs, it is relevant to note that there was no difference in income levels between
the two groups of interviewees at Aurora and WestWyck. However, their life stage and the location of the
development (i.e. more accessible to services and less car dependent) might suggest that residents of
WestWyck would have more disposable income.