The owners of units in Sydney’s recently evacuated Mascot Towers have agreed to pay an initial $1 million for emergency repairs.
Owners agreed to foot the bill at an hours-long meeting at Mascot’s Holiday Inn on Thursday night.
The initial bill includes $254,000 for propping, $250,000 for engineering, $176,000 for legal fees, $100,000 for the estimated cost of evacuation, $70,000 for new carpets, and $5000 for a media consultant, according to a document from the strata management company Strata Choice.
However, there are fears the final repair bill could rise to more than $5 million.
Of the 100 owners who voted on whether to pay the million-dollar levy, 94 voted in favour – though owner Brian Tucker said most arrived at the decision for lack of a viable alternative.
“There’s not much choice,” he told reporters.
“It was a pretty overwhelming vote. We just want to see everyone back in the building.”
Emotions ran high at the meeting.
Engineers and lawyers delivered lengthy and complicated speeches, but were often interrupted by shouts from tearful owners – some of whom made emotional appeals to their neighbours to unite and stand together.
The owners are being held liable for the repairs as the ten-year-old building is too old to fall under warranty.
“Consumers have nowhere to go in these sorts of situations, there’s nobody for them to sue, there’s nowhere for them to turn,” strata lawyer and spokesman for the Owners Corporation Network Stephen Goddard told the ABC.
“People have more consumer protection buying a fridge than a million-dollar apartment.”
MyPlace estate agent John Higgins said he would encourage the 12 owners he represents to pay what it takes to make the building fit for occupancy as soon as possible.
“It’s so important to get a building back up to speed,” he said.
However, engineers say that while there are some signs the complex is “stabilising”, it will be at least another month before residents are allowed to reoccupy the building.
Owners were evacuated from the building last Friday after cracks were discovered in the building’s primary support structure and facade masonry.
Coupled with a similar incident that took place at Sydney’s Opal Tower in December, the event has led some industry insiders to call for a royal commission into the construction industry.