Statement from the Victorian Building Authority
23 March 2020 (more…)
23 March 2020 (more…)
A resident of one of Sydney’s several evacuated apartment buildings has broken down in tears before a parliamentary inquiry when describing the uncertainty he and his young family are now facing.
Vijay Vital, who was evacuated from Sydney’s Mascot Towers on June 14, was overcome with emotion when he addressed the NSW Legislative Council inquiry into the state’s building standards on Monday.
“I stand here as a parent as well; my daughter asked me, ‘When can I go home?’ ” Mr Vital said.
The upper house committee heard from several residents affected by mass evacuations in recent months as well as bureaucrats still working to implement laws passed by the government last year.
‘Breathtakingly irresponsible’: Sydney mayors lash building controls
Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore says a lack of independent certification has paved the way for buildings “unfit for occupation”.
The lord mayor of the City of Sydney, Clover Moore, has lashed the state government’s regulation of the building industry as “breathtakingly irresponsible”, saying a lack of independent certification has paved the way for buildings that were “unfit for occupation”. (more…)
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the system of regulation in the building industry is not working, after the Herald revealed the evacuation of a third apartment building in Sydney.
As the state opposition called for an immediate response to the growing number of building defects emerging in the city, Ms Berejiklian said she wanted to “assure the community that we know there’s a problem.
A third Sydney apartment block is now under scrutiny over severe defects and safety issues.
“We know there’s a gap in legislation,” she said. “We allowed the industry to self-regulate and it hasn’t worked. There are too many challenges, too many problems, and that’s why the government’s willing to legislate.”
After the existence of the third multi-storey residential building recently evacuated on safety grounds emerged on Wednesday, the Herald asked each council in Sydney if it was aware of any similar evacuations in the past year.
Public confidence in apartment buildings has taken another hit, after it was revealed a block of units in Sydney’s south west was evacuated late last year.
Residents of the 30 loft-style apartments at Zetland’s Garland Lofts were forced to abandon the building after “water damage caused the failure of the internal fire-rated construction throughout several apartments,” a City of Sydney spokesperson said in a statement.
After learning of the evacuation, a City of Sydney officer inspected the building in February 2019 and found that it was vacant and suffering from “extensive and severe water damage”.
A staff member from the City of Sydney then spoke to the building owner “who had engaged consultants to address the issues and make the building habitable again”, the spokesperson said.
But the Sydney Morning Herald revealed on Wednesday that residents have still not been able to move back into the property, roughly five months after the City of Sydney first inspected it.
Garland 204 Pty Ltd was the developer behind the project, according to the SMH.
The company’s directors, Janet Pennington and Phillip Bartlett, notified ASIC on May 19, 2014, that it had appointed external administrators, and the company was officially deregistered on February 19, 2019, an ASIC spokesperson told The New Daily.
“There were a number of parties involved, and I am unable to make any further comment,” he said.
The latest revelations come at a time of heightened scrutiny into standards in the construction industry, after the high-profile evacuations of Sydney Olympic Park’s Opal Tower and the Mascot Towers on Bourke Street led to a public outcry over shoddy workmanship.
Builders Collective of Australia president Phil Dwyer believes the recent evacuations and ongoing flammable cladding crisis showed standards had slipped so much that a royal commission was needed to fix the industry.
“Developers will always try to get the most amount for the least amount of money, but cutting corners doesn’t save money – it costs money,” he told The New Daily after the Mascot Towers evacuation.
“We want reform for the building industry, and a short and sharp royal commission.”
Residents of the 132 units in Mascot Towers were evacuated on June 14 after cracks were discovered in the facade masonry and primary support structure.
After being told “there was no money for them” at a meeting on June 20, unit owners agreed to pay an initial $1.1 million to cover emergency repairs.
David Bannerman, principal of Sydney-based strata law firm Bannermans Lawyers, told The New Daily the day after that meeting that, until a thorough investigation had taken place, the owners were the only party that could legally be asked to foot the bill, as the building was too old to fall under warranty.
“Whatever way they go, whenever you’re trying to recover that sort of money, you’ll be in court for a while, because people don’t flash that sort of cash around very quickly,” he said.
Engineers are still investigating the cause of the cracks, and residents have not yet been able to move back into the property.
But the NSW government has since set up an emergency $3 million fund to cover the temporary accommodation costs of tenants and owner-occupiers for up to three months.
Meanwhile, Opal Tower builder Icon revealed in a statement last week that structural remedial works would likely be completed in mid-August, with 63 of the apartments expected to be re-occupied some time in July.
The recent evacuations have put pressure on the NSW government to live up to its promise of implementing reforms recommended by the Shergold-Weir Report in February 2018.
Among other things, that report recommended introducing mandatory registration of all building practitioners and highlighted the privatisation of the certification industry as a worrisome conflict of interest.
In response to that report and growing public distrust in the construction industry, the NSW government announced in February that it would introduce legislation requiring building designers and builders to be registered and appoint a building commissioner to act as the state’s consolidated building regulator.
That legislation has yet to pass, but NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in June that she would hold “everybody to account”.
LESS than a week after the Mascot Towers evacuation, a joint report by Deakin and Griffith universities has revealed defects in 85% of apartment buildings such as cracking, dangerous cladding or other fire safety breaches, threatening lives and potentially putting unaware owners and investors hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket. (more…)
An investigation into a private Darwin engineer that has been running since 2017 has revealed that a structural component is non-compliant in nine multi-storey residential buildings in the Top End city. (more…)
It has been labelled Perth’s most exclusive new address but the multimillion-dollar apartment towers at Elizabeth Quay have been plagued by leaks and building defects, with some owners refusing to move in and demanding compensation.
Buyers started receiving the keys in March, only to discover what they describe as poor workmanship, some listing hundreds of defects in apartments they paid more than $2 million for.
The West Australian has observed internal defects including crooked walls, broken sewage pipes, uneven paintwork and extensive chips, scratches and stains on walls, floors and window frames.
The developer, Hong Kong company Far East Consortium, described the faults as “normal”.
“Minor defects and workmanship issues are an unfortunate reality for even high-quality projects. All defects that have been identified are being fixed,” Far East Consortium’s WA State manager Dan Sweet said.
One owner, who asked not to be identified, described the development as an unfinished construction site. Seven weeks after settlement, the couple are refusing to move in until 200 defects are rectified in their apartment. They intend to seek compensation for thousands of dollars in strata fees and council rates they’re paying for an unoccupied apartment.
The complex is also suffering water leaks in the basement carpark, which a leading Perth engineer described as “avoidable.”
A machine has been brought in to inject a chemical into the cracks, but Peter Airey of Advanced Substructures said the cracking would be an ongoing problem.
Mr Sweet said the remedial works were a “permanent solution”, “minor in nature” and in “no way compromise the structural integrity of the building”.
International engineering firm WSP, which worked on The Towers at Elizabeth Quay, was also responsible for work at the Opal Tower in Sydney. Residents there were forced to evacuate when extensive cracking appeared at Christmas.
An investigation found design and construction faults. There is no suggestion Elizabeth Quay residents face any danger.
The ACT government’s lax approach to regulating building quality has “emboldened” developers, builders and contractors to cut corners and deliver substandard work, an Assembly inquiry has heard.
Access Canberra has also been accused of being a “friend of industry” rather than a “feared regulator”, as the government agency came under fire during the second day of public hearings at the ACT Assembly’s building quality inquiry.
Mr Grant said Kingston Place owners had spent about $250,000 on expert reports and almost $400,000 on legal fees since 2014. The owners agreed to pay a levy on top of their strata fees to help fund the legal costs.
He told the hearing that money, time and considerable stress could have been saved had the developer and Access Canberra taken “prompt action” to rectify the problems when they were first identified.
Owners lodged a formal complaint with Access Canberra in August 2016, and Mr Grant said the regulator had twice stated that it intended to order the developer to fix the alleged defects,
Mr Grant said that never eventuated, meaning owners were left with “no other option” but to launch legal action. The proceedings are ongoing.
“This lack of action by the ACT government in responding to the problems and the many reviews that have taken place has merely emboldened shoddy builders, developers and tradespersons in the ACT,” Mr Grant said.
“The defects exist because those responsible for its construction and assuring compliance with the ACT government’s regulatory framework failed to deliver to the standards expected by the ACT community.”
Mr Grant said Access Canberra needed to be more aggressive in enforcing standards and punishing substandard work.
“The regulator cannot be a friend of the industry, it must be prepared to enforce,” he said.
“Access Canberra has to become a feared regulator. That doesn’t mean it has to be overzealous, but it means that shoddy builders need to know that if they are building shoddy buildings then they will be in the gun.”
Minister for Building Quality Improvement Gordon Ramsay did not respond directly to Mr Grant’s comments, but defended Access Canberra’s approach to regulation and enforcement.
The government has ramped up enforcement activity since the start of the year, including temporarily shutting down 32 building sites across Canberra.
“Each regulatory intervention by the regulator has an immediate impact on not only improving building quality through issues being rectified but also on hitting industry where it hurts – financially through mandatory rectification works and work stopping on sites,” Mr Ramsay said.
“It also has an important reputational impact.”
Morris Construction Corporation was contacted for comment.
The 100 submissions to the inquiry have laid bare the problems plaguing Canberra’s construction sector, with numerous accounts of structural defects in buildings, delays in constructions and owners being left out of pocket after companies collapsed.
The role of private certifiers has also been called into questions amid concerns about the potential for conflicts of interest.
Mr Grant, who oversaw the introduction of private certification while leading the building codes board, said certifiers should be appointed by Access Canberra, not private builders.