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Building Oversight Failures


#41

Your use of ‘grub’ is far to kind to these bottom feeders who are essentially industry itself, and the coalition’s ideology always believes ‘we’ can trust business and they will do the right thing. They have their dollars in their pockets and for the rest, not their problem under current laissez faire caveat emptor ‘law’. Considering Victoria is a bastion of the ALP it reflects our TweedleDee and TweedleDum choices at the polls. Our governments take no responsibility for what they wrought and can be counted on to do the absolute least they can do about such things. :frowning:


#42

Just when you thought it was safe to back in the water, oops, the jerry-built apartment tower you lived in, now comes another fiasco.

What an absolute disgrace.
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#43

How to really P… Off a whole generation of unit owners.

Is it at all possible to find a positive in what must appear a terrible nightmare to all affected?

Is there good fortune that unlike other high rise failures in other parts of the world there has been no catastrophic collapse?

Two high rise projects constructed in the same City in the previous ten years is a serious and significant warning sign. How many other properties or ongoing projects are at risk?

Will this event prompt real action, and will it prompt governments to act? Owners corporations might have some recourse to remedies at law, given time to seek out those responsible.

It is government that is responsible for the legislation, and system of regulation under which these high rises are constructed.

For every project there is a controlling beneficiary, the developer who instigates the project, arranges the finance, engages the architects, the project managers, and foots the bills. While these and many of the contractors may have liability insurance, who is ultimately responsible for the outcome?

Assuming the developer is still an entity are they liable, and in fact are their responsible officers at the time legally culpable, if at all?

Our legal system has recently fought to reach back through decades to hold individuals accountable. Is what has been happening to these residents of Sydney also a crime, or simply an unattributed error with no one to be held accountable?

P.s.
A topic Choice might consider offering some insight to @BrendanMays?

What level are owners corporations covered for insurance for such events, and is there a shortfall in regulation, or insurance cover for such events?

Is such insurance even affordable assuming it might need to cover structural or foundation related failures?


#44

Too late. All the guilty and/or responsible parties appear to be walking free.


#45

I skimmed the article but didn’t see reference to who the builder/developer was? Various and sundry online references suggest Advanced Properties director John Elias may have been the developer, while Krikis Tayler may have been the architect … unconfirmed …


#46

Yes, being built 10 years ago it is outside the statutory defect period and warranty period…see this as it summarises these in NSW…

Maybe a case for negligence could be taken?..if the responsible parties still exist/trading.


#47

Which is why the alternative proposition of extending legal liability to the key individuals needs consideration. I’m not looking for a long discourse on the impractical aspects of overturning centuries of legal precedent based on the law leaning towards the powerful and wealthy, while providing independent corporate being.

Or Government could simply cop it on the chin and accept responsibility for not delivering on it’s responsibilities. If government insists on having building regulations, approvals and charging fees, it seems fair they accept failure is by their hands. If not then why not have zero regulation and no fees or approvals. At least then all owners would know where they stand, and what to put in the legally binding contracts for purchase that tie the developers managers personally! Deal or no deal?

Edit added comment
P.S. Or on the alternative

Looks like we have an answer on this too!


#48

Government conflict and the failure to enact proper oversight (sort of) explained.. What a surprise - not.


#49

Thanks all, I’ll add this to the list of suggestions for investigations.


#50

I found the report referred to in the link very enlightening.
In particular the recommendations contained in the Appendix A of the Shergold Wier Report,

Building Confidence – Improving the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry across Australia
State Building Ministers Forum 30 April 2018, released as a public document.

Download a pdf from:
https://aibs.com.au/Public/News/2018/ShergoldWeir.aspx

There are significant recommendations for registration, qualifications, training and documentation management. The report is industry centred. There appears to have been no public consultation. Areas that may be of current public concern appear to be outside the terms of reference! The Ministers appear to be interested in changing the system for the future. It might imply acceptance the system is broken, while sidestepping the issue of remedy.

There is no discussion concerning how a reliable high rise building and construction environment might improve insurance access. My uninformed take is that legal remedy for owners, is currently very limited. Legal excuses/evasion as much as government inaction.

In the covering letter by the authors in the report to the Ministers the final paragraph says.
At present, there is heightened interest in the regulation of the safety of the built
environment. It is vital to maintain public confidence in Government oversight of construction activity. Given the degree of interest in our report, we believe there would be value in releasing it publicly, perhaps with your response to its recommendations.

Possibly understatement of the year, except it dates from April 2018 and not 2019!

The ACA ( Architects Association of Australia) has provided a useful summary of progress on the state government responses as of April this year 2019.

https://aca.org.au/article/implementing-the-shergold-weir-report

Notably the profession may feel like it has been left out.
" the Shergold Weir report provides an opportunity for greater consistency across Australia and a chance for architects to re-establish and redefine their professional role in the construction industry "

While not saying as much - it suggests there has been some disconnection between the profession and the rest of the industry.

In respect of what has gone wrong nationally and at the feet of the state governments is there yet another Commonwealth RC on the way?

Possibly not given the ACA’s assessment of progress by the NSW LNP lead govt?
" There is much work to be done in NSW and in the ACT. The ACA believes that clear timing is an important part of this, and it is essential to set clear target dates, particularly in NSW where timeframes are vague. "


#51

We all read the news?

For future reference in this thread, this ABC opinion piece provides a stark assessment of the risks of buying a high rise apartment.

It also reaffirms the situation is made worse where properties do not have access to insurance cover.

The role of non disclosure agreements where there are settlements, and the incentives for owners to keep quiet, hide issues that might affect future property values is worth further discussion.

Do consumers have a legal right to know?

Can a Body Corporate or Owners Corporation also legally enter into a non disclosure agreement in a settlement? Would the agreement have those details recorded in full and available on the record for discovery by future prospective buyers?

The pile under the carpet is growing! :flushed:


#52

Mascot Towers apartment owners will have to pay over $1 million for rectification works including $5,000 for a media consultant.

Talk about adding insult to injury.


#53

I am not sure that the system is broken as there are many designers/architects/engineers, developers, builders, contractors and certifiers who do the right thing by the people they are working for, including the customer. Where the problem lies is with the few that do cut corners, possibly to make extra money or due to pressure from the people they are working for (to meet time frames, total project costs etc).

What needs to be done is to work out how to ring in and change the system so that it doesn’t affect those who are doing the right thing, but only those who are doing the wrong thing.

One thing which I raised in an earlier post is breaking the ‘love-ins’ particularly between the certifiers and the builders/developers. The certifiers should be independent and no matter which certifier is on the job, the same outcome should be achieved. Unfortunately from the evidence to hand this is not the case.

Maybe certifiers should be assigned to a development/project by say the government so that a random certifier without a pre-existing relationship with the developer/builder signs off on the work done. If a certifier is caught out doing the wrong thing, just like say a developer/builder so also be, then they should be struck off the list so that they can no longer work in the industry,

This simple action would result in greater responsibility and accountability, as well potentially simply clean up those who cut corners within the existing industry.


#54

It is broken twice irrespective of those who may be doing their best:

It is firstly broken because we the public cannot tell who has or has not done their best until it has gone wrong. Does anyone really know which projects have hidden defects? The consumers buying or renting certainly do not, and rely on the system for assurance.

It is secondly broken because existing legislation and the law does not provide access to a satisfactory remedy for all those owners and tenants caught out to date. Nor does the system provide a remedy for any one who has purchased into a high rise property built under the current system, (post builders liability period). That the insurance industry will not support such a large market is a definite indication of how lacking in confidence underwriters are of the system in place now!

Changing the rules in NSW by the end of the year does nothing to address the circumstances of all current or soon to be owners of newer buildings.

Notes:
As a retired Engineer, I will politely suggest it is very difficult, if not impossible to inspect previously completed work and provide an assurance that a building or structure is defect free. An audit of construction records can assist, assuming they can be relied upon! The time to verify key details of the materials and methods of construction to design is during construction. I guess a very clever team of Engineers could place large plastic bladders throughout an empty structure. Install load monitoring devices. Install a system of safety restraints to guard against catastrophic collapse, and with the surrounding area evacuated pump the bladders full of water. By simulating a sequence of calculated overloads you might say a building is safe. You might also have stressed it one step short of an obvious failure and induced a new defect for later?

Hopefully someone finds a way that can be relied upon, and insurers convinced to provide cover for disruption and structural failure at a reasonable cost.

In the end perhaps like the Mr Fluffy insulation debacle the NSW and other state governments may need to spend the broader tax payers money to fully remediate and compensate all affected owners of existing buildings. It would appear it is also for Govt to find a way and pay for the level of inspection and testing deemed necessary by an independent third party. Perhaps the ACSE NSW in the most recent instance with the support of an independent statutory authority.


#55

An update on the Mascot Towers fiasco.

And an article regarding the Metropolitan Fire Brigade warning of the level of fire risks at the Neo200 building only to have their concerns dismissed by the Melbourne City Council.


#56

As time passes vested interests, including government, have become increasingly autocratic as well as dismissive of expert advice when the choices were between a dollar in a pocket whether directly or indirectly and accepting said expert advice. Further when there is a supposed relationship between politicians and the public service, the politicians increasingly see the public service as servants not advisors. And here we are :frowning:


#57

Unexpectedly a reversal of the cash flow.

Funding from the public purse, to cover three months temporary accommodation. No doubt the $3M will help. It however will not pay for all the other costs or repairs, assuming the damage is repairable?


#58

Another article regarding apartment owners facing huge bills to remove dangerous cladding.


#59

The most telling quote is ‘Opposition planning minister Tim Smith says the Victorian Government needs to help residents pay for the enormous cost of removing the cladding.’

The ALP government has not raised its head, nor has the opposition, to enact and enforce operable building regulations that hold builders/developers to account, but seem inclined to promote subsidising rectification, whether or not they do it.

‘Australia, owned and operated by property developers’ is not just a throw away, it is shown to be reality as more shonky buildings that passed so-called oversights are revealed in the press and the humming just gets louder - and then crickets.


#60

Now there concerns that the Mascot Towers building is sinking.

Talk about adding insult to injury.