A Mascot Towers owner has broken down before an inquiry into building standards as he detailed the “trauma” his family has experienced since being evacuated from the cracked Sydney apartment block.
An inquiry into the regulation of building standards, quality and disputes in NSW began on Monday after a series of incidents involving damaged unit buildings.
Residents of the Mascot complex’s 132 apartments have been forced to stay elsewhere since the building was evacuated in mid-June due to cracking in the primary support structure and facade masonry.
Mascot owner Vijay Vital broke down as he told the NSW upper house inquiry the situation had devastated his family.
“I stand here as a parent … my daughter asked me ‘When can I go home?’,” Mr Vital said.
Mascot Towers has high strata fees compared to neighbouring buildings and had been plagued by defects due to substandard materials and negligence, he alleged.
“This has caused a lot of trauma in the past two months because we were evacuated, the reason for which we don’t know,” he said.
“We have insurance but we can’t claim any of it until we know the root cause.”
The Mascot Towers Owners Corporation – in a submission to the inquiry – said owners and residents relied on the “system” but the NSW government had failed to establish a sufficiently tough regulatory framework for builders, certifiers and property developers.
There’d been a failure of the private building certification process, a lack of supervision over builders and an unfair burden on owners to rectify defects.
As a result, the responsibility for repair costs should fall to the government, the owners corporation said.
“Buyers have more consumer protection buying a $1000 television than a million-dollar apartment.”
The submission outlined Mascot Towers’ various defects leading up to the cracking problem, including “lukewarm” water all year round, severe stormwater flooding and the incorrect use of electrical cables.
The building was passed for occupation despite these faults, it said.
“Our residents have inherited a building with numerous defects … which were originally signed off on by our government, engineers and certifiers as ‘within standards’.
“Somewhere along the line, maximising profit has become a misinterpretation for ‘delivering quality’.”
The group recommended the NSW government pay for repairs to Mascot Towers as the defects “happened under the watch of government”.
It also wants a homeowners’ warranty insurance scheme reintroduced for all levels of strata development, an extension of the statutory warranty period and a statewide assistance package for cladding and defects.
Mandatory supervision of private certifiers was also recommended.
“The buck stops with the government. When it goes wrong, they need to put money back in to fix a system they’ve overseen,” the submission states.
David Chandler, appointed this month as the inaugural NSW building commissioner, will start in his new role later this week.