On June 13th, the Mascot Towers residents were informed of a slip joint defect issue in the car park that would be temporarily fixed in the coming days. Only a day afterwards, however, notice was distributed that all units within the building needed to be evacuated by 9pm that night. Residents were given only four hours of notice, and many were forced to leave behind a significant number of personal possessions.
This is the second major evacuation in six months since the Opal Tower debacle that occurred last December. Unlike the Opal Tower, however, the Mascot Towers are relatively old structures, construction for which was completed in 2009. While some residents believe that the root of the problems the Mascot Towers currently faces is due to the newly finished neighbouring Peak Towers by Aland Development Group, reports from the building’s strata minutes suggest otherwise. According to those minutes, the Mascot Towers have been plagued with structural issues since 2011, a mere two years after its construction.
In 2011, an MES Consulting engineer was commissioned to ‘investigate defects following the discovery of basement cracks and leaks in the car-wash bay’. The following investigations revealed that the leaks were the result of ‘poor sealing practice at construction and in the construction joists’ and further found that ‘there were faulty gas meters and leaks in common area corridors’.
More structural defects were found over the years, including ‘faulty fire systems, swimming pool leakages and faulty garden irrigation systems’. Despite efforts made by builder J&B Elias to fix the defects, the building remained ‘below general industry and Building Code of Australia standards’.
In response to allegations that the cracks in the Mascot Towers’ facade are the result of Peak Towers’ construction, Aland Development Group has revealed that they were aware of the structural defects of the Mascot Towers prior to beginning construction of Peak Towers. They also revealed that a report by an engineering consultancy group shows evidence that the same cracks seen in the Mascot Towers’ basement have been present since 2017.
Altogether, the evidence suggests that the issues of the Mascot Towers are due to a chronic history of structural defects that have arisen from sub-par construction and accumulated over time. This has revitalised debate surrounding the effectiveness of Australia’s building regulatory system that was particularly heated earlier in the year, with the Opal Towers evacuation and Melbourne’s Neo200 apartment fire occurring within less than two months of each other.
Australia Institute of Building Surveyors chief executive Brett Mace emphasises the need for immediate reform across Australia. The problem, he says, is not exclusive to New South Wales, and politicians are not grasping the scale and importance of the issue, instead choosing to ‘[wallpaper] over the cracks’. (ET)