A fundraising appeal has kicked off to help repair Sydney’s Mascot Towers after residents were forced to flee their homes when the building suffered crippling damage.
The 10-year-old building in Sydney’s south was evacuated at short notice last Friday after engineers became concerned about continued cracking in the primary support structure and facade masonry.
One week on, some residents remain unable to return to their homes to access possessions and pets, and a Go Fund Me page has been set up to help pay for repairs.
“Residents now face an uncertain future, without a home and with escalating costs to repair the building,” resident Anthony Gombu wrote on the page, which has a fundraising goal of $1 million.
The target is equal to the initial repair bill – a $1 million special levy to fund initial works – that owners of the building’s apartments voted to pay in a four-hour meeting on Thursday.
Another owners’ meeting is scheduled for next Thursday.
“This is only the start for us, we face massive repair costs that could reach $6 plus million, with no support from our government,” Mr Gombu wrote.
The NSW premier on Friday vowed to hold to account those responsible for the damage to Mascot Towers.
Residents on Friday were told those with homes in the previously non-accessible “red zone” would finally be able to return and gather their belongings on Sunday.
Despite that welcome news, an update from engineers revealed beams in the building’s basement continue to show signs of increased cracking.
Groundwater is still seeping within the basement.
A previous engineers’ summary released on Thursday said there were signs the complex was “stabilising” but there was no immediate prospect of residents returning within the next month.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian had been invited to the meeting but did not attend, nor did any of her ministers, leaving many owners disappointed.
While empathising with the plight of residents and owners, she said it was not her job to attend every strata meeting.
“The government will hold everybody to account – including those who should have done their jobs better. Clearly, there’s been a failure here and those who need to be held to account will be held to account,” she told reporters.
She again called on strata and building managers to “step up” and not shirk their responsibilities, but had no word of warning for developers.
The owners’ corporation understands the builder and developer J & B Elias was no longer trading and had been placed into administration some years ago.
The minister responsible for building standards in NSW described regulation concerning who was liable to pay for the damage as a “spaghetti nest”.
“It’s not a satisfactory situation at all,” Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson told ABC Radio National.
“Someone has to be accountable.”
He said the government had a responsibility to look after and support those affected, but noted it was a civil liability issue because it was a privately-owned building.
Under NSW law, statutory warranties for major defects are only in place for six years.
Engineers have said they need at least another week to provide more substantiative findings, while a second firm of engineers has been appointed to review current assessments.