An apartment block described by its developers as one of its “architectural landmarks of the finest standard” has been outed by NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler as the “straw that broke the camel’s back”, prompting him to seek the tougher powers to protect owners from defective buildings.
According to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Chandler says the unit block in Auburn, western Sydney, is probably the worst he’s inspected, and fired him up to convince the state government to give him the powers to clean up the industry that he was granted earlier this month.
Those powers include the ability to refuse occupation certificates, which means developers will no longer be able to force off-the-plan purchasers to settle on apartments in significantly defective buildings. They come into force on September 1.
Mr Chandler told the SMH he would then “go from top to bottom” of the high-rise 16–storey Aya Eliza building in Auburn Rd, Auburn, which he described as “an abomination … because it wasn’t finished” and said it ticked “about every box” in failing to meet critical building and safety benchmarks.
Shaft too small for lift
When Mr Chandler visited the building last October, at the urging of Fire and Rescue NSW, he discovered just one of its two lifts worked, and the other shaft was too small to fit its lift.
Under laws passed this month, a statutory 10-year duty of care applies to all new buildings and those less than a decade old, allowing owners to sue building professionals responsible for defects.
Previously, builders, developers, engineers and architects could avoid any continuing duty of care to private purchasers.
According to the SMH, the Aya Eliza tower is one of two developed by Mehris in Auburn’s town centre. Between October last year and this March, Cumberland Council slapped four orders on the buildings, requiring structural engineers and fire safety experts to report on their overall compliance with the building code. Those reports are expected by the end of July.
Merhis managing director Dave Stickland told the Herald that the defects raised had “largely already been resolved” or were in the process of being remedied.
The full story, including quotes from residents, can be read on the SMH website.
There’s a terrific follow-up by Matt O’Sullivan here, on the certifier now being dragged into the spotlight. And I couldn’t let this pass without quoting the boss of the certifcation firm that okayed the building next to the Mascot Tower, whose owers are blaming it for the collapse of their block.
“Prior to issuing an occupation certificate, he obtained and relied upon documentation provided by the project’s engineer, and other professional sub-contractors, that the building met its conditions of consent and complied with the Building Code of Australia.”
In other words, he ticked off the paperwork from the contractors and subbies and could easily never have set foot in the block. And that, dear readers, is at the very heart of the whole certification problem.