Residents of Olympic Park’s collapsing Opal Tower have had to endure mounting hardships in the wake of the construction scandal that’s engulfed the building — but their experiences are not unique.
Numerous Sydney residential buildings have been taken to market with major defects, often embroiling residents in protracted legal battles to get their money back.
Smaller problems ranging from minor cracks and cladding issues have also been common.
Some of the issues date back years, with a 2012 report by the University of NSW showing 85 per cent of strata title owners in NSW complained of defects in their buildings.
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A more recent federal inquiry into the building industry by construction law veteran Bronwyn Weir and former cabinet secretary Peter Shergold revealed the sector required major reform.
CEO of the Strata Community Association Alisha Fisher said the Opal Tower scandal, which saw residents rushed out of the 392-unit building due to cracks, was the “tip of the iceberg”.
Previous building defects point to a legacy of poorly constructed buildings:
BUNN ST, PYRMONT
Among the major building scandals to predate the Opal Tower fiasco was the string of defects inside a block of 40 units constructed on Bunn St in Pyrmont over 2001.
The City of Sydney issued a rectification order for the block in 2009 due to fire safety concerns.
Residents were told to leave while the safety issues were fixed, but had to wait until 2015 for all the works to finally be completed because of a complicated legal battle.
CENTENARY PARK, HOMEBUSH
NSW Fair Trading ordered the developer of this gated community near Flemington markets to fix numerous cracked tiles, building facades and collapsing stairs in 2017.
Residents had first moved into the complex in 2014 and reported other problems, such as issues with gas water heaters, while some residents complained of water damage.
Fair Trading reported that the developer Raad Group complied with the orders.
CHELSEA TOWER, CHATSWOOD
This building on Railway St in Chatswood had numerous problems, including a leaky spa on one of the lower levels and defective external render.
The 22-storey tower was constructed in the late 1990s and the defects prompted residents to sue builder Brookfield Multiplex for $10 million a decade after taking possession of the units.
The case went to court various times. The owners initially lost the case in the Supreme Court but won on appeal. A later 2014 ruling by the High Court found the builder owed the owners no duty of care over the defects.
PALERMO, WENTWORTH POINT
New residents in this complex of four buildings of 245 apartments in Wentworth Point complained of water leaks shortly after the development was completed in 2007.
The complex at the corner of Bayswater Drive and Hill Rd was also found to have fire safety issues.
The owners lodged a claim against builder Southern Cross Constructions in 2014, which had went into liquidation in 2012.
Representatives for the developer eventually negotiated a $2.5 million defects claim with the Palermo owners.