In a statement released today, just a week before Christmas, Icon Co said all residents from the 392-unit Sydney apartment complex had now been allowed back in the building.
The building in Sydney Olympic Park was evacuated on Christmas Eve after residents heard a loud noise and large cracks were later discovered on three floors.
Icon Co said it had finished rectification works at the building but work on the external facade and in some of the shared hallways were set to be finalised in March 2020.
It also announced it will provide a 20-year warranty on the rectification works — three times longer than the standard six-year period required for residential buildings in NSW.
Icon managing director Nicholas Brown said it had prioritised the return of the apartments to owners and tenants and was now focused on closing out the remaining enhancement works.
“We believe Opal Tower is now the safest building in Australia when it comes to structural integrity,” Icon managing director Nicholas Brown said.
“Our commitment to seeing this project fulfil its full potential has been unwavering from day one and we are pleased to provide the 20-year warranty as a sign of our confidence in the building today.
“The warranty is over and above any guarantees offered by competitors or any statutory requirement in the country.”
The builder revealed it had spent an estimated $31 million on Opal Tower since December 24, 2018 and in documents lodged with the NSW Supreme Court this month, Icon is asking to be reimbursed $26.5 million from structural engineers WSP.
Icon has been drawn into what’s expected to be a multimillion-dollar class action that the residents are taking against the Sydney Olympic Park Authority, who owned the land the tower was built on.
But Icon argues the problems at Opal Tower were due to design failures from WSP and that it should be reimbursed for its costs and any damages it may have to pay unit owners.
In the statement today Icon said it had provided owners and tenants with more than $11 million in relocation expenses, covering hotels, rental and lease costs, security, pet accommodation, removalists and furniture storage, insurance and transport.
It spent more than $13 million on the rectification process but Icon said the direct structural repairs only cost about $2.5 million, less than 10 per cent of the total outlay.
Mr Brown said owners had been fully reimbursed for any losses arising out of the damage.
“We are pleased to have returned the final apartment as it helps provide certainty for all of the Opal tenants and owners,” he said.
“While today marks a significant milestone, we recognise the inconvenience and co-operation of owners and tenants over the past year and are grateful for their assistance.”
Icon said it had given every resident an allowance for food and other incidental expenses, provided a helpline and online portal for residents, managed the design and completion of all rectification work at its own cost, funded accommodation expenses, covered all relocation and storage costs and offset the increase in insurance premiums for the next 12 months.
Icon said it had also introduced significant changes to its construction and review processes to ensure the same problem did not happen again.
This includes mandated dual certification for all structural designs and a specific requirement for additional structural engineer inspections.
The statement said Icon’s requirements were far more stringent than standard industry practice and exceeded NSW Government recommendations for the residential construction sector.
“While we acknowledge the very challenging circumstances residents faced when the issues first emerged in December last year, we remained focused on delivering best-practice rectification,” Mr Brown said.
“Safety is always our top priority and we have been committed to ensuring residents were back in the building as quickly as possible.”
Opal Tower apartment owner Brian Jones said he was impressed with Icon’s genuine concern for residents and staff.
“My belief is that Opal Tower will get past this issue and eventually become an iconic building of Sydney Olympic Park.”
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