Grenfell tower fire: Australian developers cutting corners and putting lives at risk | Owners Corporation Network

Grenfell tower fire: Australian developers cutting corners and putting lives at risk

The Daily Telegraph

A blaze gutted a Bankstown apartment complex in 2012. Authorities fear a similar incident — or one on the scale of the Grenfell Tower fire — could occur in NSW.

A blaze gutted a Bankstown apartment complex in 2012. Authorities fear a similar incident — or one on the scale of the Grenfell Tower fire — could occur in NSW.

NSW

 

Grenfell tower fire: Australian developers cutting corners and putting lives at risk

NATASHA BITA, National Affairs Writer, The Daily Telegraph



 

·         Inside the tower: The stories of survival and loss

·         Grenfell Tower fire death toll could rise above 100



ALMOST a month after London’s deadly Grenfell tower blaze, Australia’s top engineering body has warned that greedy developers are potentially putting lives at risk by “cutting corners” and building shoddy high-rise apartments.

Engineers Australia claims some building certifiers are signing off on substandard work that ranges from structural defects to waterproofing, plumbing and — most alarmingly in the wake of the London tragedy in which 80 people died — fire safety.

“Multi-storey apartment buildings are being constructed that are not meeting the standards that the Australian public expects,’’ it has told a federal Senate inquiry into shonky building products.

Flames and smoke engulf Grenfell Tower in London in June. Picture: AFP/Daniel Leal-Olivas

 

“In a system that puts cost ahead of professionalism we have created an industry where margins are thin and corners are cut.

“The Grenfell fire demonstrates that cost should not be the overriding consideration when procuring and constructing a building.

“Short-cuts should not be taken because, too often, short-term cost saving leads to longer-term ongoing costs as well as potential loss of life.’’

A blaze gutted a Bankstown apartment complex in 2012. Authorities fear a similar incident — or one on the scale of the Grenfell Tower fire — could occur in NSW.

 

The state government has yet to legislate its promised crackdown on building certifiers — 10 months after an independent review flagged “dangers’’ in the existing ­inspection system.

The review warned of a “growing trend’’ for fire protection in buildings to be certified even when it fails safety standards.

Panels of external cladding are removed from the facade of Braithwaite House in London in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. Picture: AFP/Tolga Akmen

 

It cited the Bankstown apartment tragedy in September 2012, when a Chinese student died falling from a ledge and another was seriously ­injured after a fire broke out in a high-rise unit block that had no sprinkler system. The ­review concluded “the current system provides no assurance that this will not re-occur’’.

One person died in the horror Bankstown blaze.

 

A NSW Fair Trading spokesman said the legislation would be introduced to parliament by the end of the year, to deliver “increased compliance and greater recognition of the health and safety risks in the system’’.

He said Fair Trading had “no evidence’’ to suggest that builders were using unsafe practices but would investigate any complaints. Fair Trading fielded 1829 complaints about home building defects in 2014-15, while the Building Professionals Board received 579 complaints about building certifiers and construction certificates between 2010 and 2015.

Engineers Australia has complained to the Senate ­inquiry about builders “self-certifying’’ work it says should be signed off by engineers.