The builder of Sydney’s damaged Opal Tower has stopped paying for temporary accommodation and food for some units now declared safe to occupy but some residents are refusing to move back in.
A severe crack in the 34-storey apartment building forced a mass evacuation on Christmas Eve.
Now Icon Construction says it won’t pay food or accommodation past Sunday for residents of 74 apartments after the body corporate’s engineers Cardno declared those units safe to occupy.
“It is important to note that we are continuing to work with all the engineers to ensure all queries are thoroughly addressed and that the extent of apartments with actual remedial works is minimal,” Icon said in a letter to residents.
“Approximately 65 per cent of the apartments are ready to be reoccupied now.”
Other residents will be able to stay in hotel accommodation until at least Wednesday.
But, some residents are refusing to move back into the building until all construction works are finished.
“We paid for a brand new apartment, not a construction site,” Wei Yang told AAP on Sunday.
“We, the owners, are the ones that have to pay our mortgage every single week … You can imagine how much stress we are experiencing.”
Another resident insists engineers and the NSW government need to provide confirmation that the building is safe to occupy for everyone.
“We can’t move back into construction site yet,” Yoyomummy LZ wrote on Facebook.
It comes after furious residents took pictures revealing the devastating impact of the extensive remediation work inside the building.
They show metal props being used to support the cracked building and some even being used to brace ceilings inside apartments.
Design engineer WSP on Thursday said it had established a reoccupation schedule for apartments that are “physically remote” from repairs, strengthening works or propping.
It said stabilisation works had been undertaken on three walls in the building across 12 levels.
But it maintains the building is structurally sound overall — a verdict also made by the government’s independent engineering experts.
An interim report released by the state government earlier this month stated that “significant rectification works are required” to repair the building.
It ruled out dodgy materials and extreme weather caused the large cracks on Christmas Eve.
But numerous construction and design problems were detailed, including reinforcing bars in some areas being the wrong size.
“While we have isolated the probable cause to localised structural design and construction issues, we need more information to make definitive conclusions about the cause or causes of the damage,” the report’s authors, Professors Mark Hoffman, John Carter and Stephen Foster, said.
“More work is also needed before we can provide recommendations on what needs to happen to avoid incidents like this in the future.”
They recommend independent and qualified structural engineers be contracted to check final proposals in detail before major rectification works begin.
Loud cracking noises heard by residents on Christmas Eve triggered the evacuation of the building and the surrounding areas.
Most residents were allowed back in within 24 hours after the cracking was heard, but on December 27 they were told by the developers the entire tower would need to be emptied again so engineers’ investigations could continue.
It is still unclear what caused the cracking.