Opal Tower, a 36-story building, was evacuated on December 24, 2018, after residents reported intense cracking. About 3,000 people living in or near the facility were forced to abandon their residences. The building moved by 1-2 millimeters during the incident.
A detailed investigation was conducted in the following days to find out the causes of the cracking. It was found that there were severe design and constructions defects that led to the failure. According to officials, the damage was located between 4th and 10th floor due to pre-cast concrete panels and hob beams inadequate connection which "differed from design and/or standards." Fortunately, the building is not at risk of a total collapse.
New South Wale's authorities, concerned about the incident, decided to implement the "biggest overhaul of building laws" in Australia's history.
According to the previous code, builders were responsible for any flaws of the construction. The new regulation imposes that all engineers, architects and designers are accountable for a building. Each project will have its building commissioner to control the construction works while alterations in the design plans will be restricted unless approval is provided. Officials are in great need of re-establishing a reliable profile to ensure people that buildings are properly constructed.
"We're making tough new laws to ensure buildings meet Australian standards, and to guarantee that people who build and design buildings have the proper qualifications to do so," Brian Seidler, Master Builders Association NSW's executive director commented.
The new regulations derive from an independent report issued before the Opal Tower's cracking as its authors had already detected construction flaws in the previous rules. "They (the report's authors) found that there are national problems in the construction industry," NSW Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean stated.