In the wake of another New South Wales apartment complex evacuation, one caused by major cracking in complex structure, a collective call has been issued for improved regulation, as well as the registration of those working in the fields of building compliance and certification.
In the southern Sydney suburb of Mascot, residents of an apartment tower were evacuated Friday, June 14, due to a concern that widening structure cracks posed safety threats to inhabitants.
Due to continual and persistent cracking in the building’s support structure and façade masonry, a series of temporary structural supports were put up as a precautionary measure. Yet by Friday night, engineers noted cracking in the transfer slab beams that supported the primary building corner—with this observation prompting a total evacuation of Mascot Towers.
Engineers are trying to determine the root cause of the cracking. A spokesperson representing Fire and Rescue NSW noted identifiable movements in the basement, possibly related to works underway nearby.
This is the latest in a string of events that points to bigger regulation issues in the building industry.
Residents at Sydney’s Opal Tower apartment complex were evacuated six months ago due to reports of cracking and movement. An investigation revealed that the hob beam and panel assembly causing the cracks failed to meet design requirements specified in the National Construction Code or the Australian Standard for Concrete Structures.
In the wake of the Opal Tower situation, the NSW Government announced its intention to strengthen regulation of building certifiers, appoint a Building Commissioner, and introduce a suite of reforms intended to introduce more quality control, accountability and transparency to the building and construction industry. Many feel, however, that not enough progress has been made to meet these goals.
In addition, two industry reports—the Shergold-Weir Building Confidence report and the final Opal Tower investigation report—both recommend that the government register building practitioners and engineers through an appropriate professional body.
Engineers Australia National Manager for Public Affairs Jonathan Russell has indicated a willingness to work with the NSW Government to restore trust in the building industry, addressing systemic problems in regards to shifting, combustible cladding, and shifting. And Chris Knierim, President of the Building Designers Association of Australia, has said that reform needs to happen. He emphasizes the importance of building safety and industry accountability; with the ultimate goal of restoring consumer confidence and guaranteeing building safety.