A report that was released from an independent investigation of the opal towers has confirmed that issues with construction and structural design of the building was non compliant with national codes and standards. Which in turn led to the damage that was observed in the building.
The report was released by the NSW government and was written by Professors, John Carter, Mark Hoffman and Stephen Foster. Read the full report here.
According to the report, the cause of damage to the building was due to;
- The hob beams were non compliant and were not structurally sound and due to this they were susceptible to failure by shear compression and bursting.
- Grouting the joints of the hob beams only partially increased stress on the beams.
- The damage observed on level 10 was likely a consequence of the adjacent hob beam failures.
The Report recommends that Opal towers can take these steps to stay compliant and safe;
- The damaged hob beams need to be rectified to provide the necessary load capacity for the building.
- Significant rectification works are necessary to ensure that the building and all the structural components of it satisfy the NCC and the current AS3600-2018
The report mentions that there is an agreement in principle to the rectification that has been planned to date. Read more about the rectification strategy here.
Another challenge that the construction industry is facing, specifically in Victoria is the use of cladding material in buildings. With recent events of flammable cladding material catching fire in the two Melbourne towers, “With regards to cladding specifically in Victoria, provided it is clear what can and cannot be used, replacement of existing non-compliant material should be pushed as a priority,” Dame Judith Hackitt says to the age.
The biggest challenge that the industry is to face is who will pay for the remediation costs.
Dame also told age that there are many similarities with Britain and Australia, there are no enforcement of laws and unclear standards when it comes to building compliance.
The Age reports that many residents of the Neo 200 building which caught on fire still remain locked. Residents are out of their apartments. Eight of the units in the building are unusable for up to or more than a year while repairs are in place.
Hundreds of Victorian buildings including hospitals have banned cladding and very few have plans to rectify this issue. There is no enforcement on who takes responsibility when things go wrong with buildings in Australia.
In the Banking Royal Commission hearings it was brought to light how a pregnant woman and her family were left with a big hole in their roof exposing the two to lead dust for close to a year and a half as Insurance provider Youi’s chosen builders made damage from a hail storm.
The repairs were delayed by Youi and there was a lack of work ethic around the issue at the hand.
Read the full hearing from the royal commission here
The Builders Collective of Australia has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to set up a Royal Commission to look into the residential construction industry in Australia.
With the cases as mentioned above, the president of the builders collective, The Builders collective believe that the system is broken and needs administrative action.
Builders collective submitted a paper to the Prime Minister highlighting that;
- Decline in strict compliance to standards in the building sector began with the deregulation/ privatisation of the various inspection regimes around Australia, commencing in the mid-1990s;
- The virtual collapse of Builder’s Warranty Insurance (BWI) in 2001 with the demise of HIH Insurance, only to be replaced by the HIA’s own scheme, and the developer-friendly ‘ten-point plan’ that still poses as a BWI scheme;
- Major shift toward higher density living in the past 15+ years – apartment towers are now home to a large and increasing percentage of the Australian population. (Original Source: https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/news/royal-commission-sought-for-australia-s-home-build)
They urge for an urgent Royal Commission hearing into the building compliance sector to avoid more tragedies like the Opal towers.
Don’t miss Carolyn McNally, Secretary of Department of Planning & Environment NSW who will be sharing her insights on “Do we need a more government regulated industry?” at the Strengthening Compliance & Enforcement in the Building Industry Conference on the 25th & 26th June 2019 in Sydney.