IS there more to the new Building Reforms … than meets the eye?

THE NSW Building Commissioner will be able to issue stop work orders, order developers to rectify defective buildings and stop occupation certificates from being issued.

With three goals …

-the first to focus on the accreditation regime for designers

-the second to give insurers the confidence to ensure the work

-the third decennial liability insurance with 10 years coverage for defects for consumers

The new legislation has been described as complicated however, when companies contravene the legislation the directors and any involved in company management can be personally liable!  This may also be retrospective!

IT would seem due to community-wide awareness of the shoddy work of this Sector … with the word having gotten around … across the Globe … and the consequent pull-back that the TaskForce had to concede somewhat … and it could be this is as far as they have let the Commissioner get to …

Read more!

No photo description available.
CAAN Photo: development underway in Lindfield.

IS NSW INC going far enough to Stop Defective Development?

THIS Report in the SMH sounds good with the new NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler having the power from 1 September 2020 to enter and inspect building sites, to prevent the issue of ‘occupation certificates’, and order work to be stopped!

However distraught home buyers/owners (*Constituents) have more to say about the system being stacked against them!!

A summary of their comments …

-the building commissioner should look at the ongoing issue of insurers fighting claims with the aim of wearing down claimants; the ongoing legal costs were going to exceed any forecast insurance payout; the payout has barely covered 50% of the real costs of remediation.

-deregulation and self regulation simply doesn’t work; Regulations exist for a reason

-the only real fix is to have truly independent supervising professional inspectors signing off at every stage of construction

-the introduction of self-certification by builders with final sign off by someone paid by the builder has always been dodgy.

-the use of substandard materials, bad building practices, mistakes and shortcuts have long been concealed by the time of final certification

-the buying off the plan system needs to be banned because the developers/builders can have millions in their pockets before they pick up a shovel and there is a wish to spend as little as possible of it on actual construction.

-will the shonky developers, builders and certifiers be named?  Future buyers need to know whose work to avoid

-the old Home Owner Warranty scheme should be applied to apartments; for the builder/developer to have enough money set aside for 5 years to cover defects

-nowadays they make huge profits shuffled to shelf companies and they are liable for nothing

-when a builder/developer goes broke they lose everything except their money

-is the ‘tough talk’ a NSW INC PR campaign to allow the industry to continue to build sub-par work at high profits (a 2-bed apartment costs $200,000 to build)

-will the list of dodgy developers/builders/certifiers be released publicly? Will on-going transparency reports be publicly made available?

-councils should be the only organisation to nominate certifiers

-what will happen when developers withdraw their political donations?

-could this NSW INC exercise be about restoring public interest in buying apartments?

-looks like it is about protecting the construction industry and investors rather than protecting home buyers from defective development

-when will criminal charges and gaol terms be imposed?

-why isn’t the government taken to task for privatising certification?

-now we have red tape + building defects + bankrupted home owners


How long before NSW Home Owners unite to fight the Cladding Crisis?

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CAAN Photo: Cladding material that may look like this in Meadowbank? Or it may appear to be more subtle?

CITY OF SYDNEY Homeowners are being hit with $25,000 bills to remove and replace combustible cladding

WHY are home owners in this predicament?

Wasn’t there a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry held into the regulation of building standards, and building quality?

Yes!  The reforms were designed to give homeowners who buy defective apartments an easier path to pursue damages.  A registration system and developers to be forced to comply with ‘declared’ building designs.

YET … the homeowner victims are being hit with the rectification bills?

DESPITE the final report to the NSW Government making a range of recommendations for flammable cladding including:

  • The need to disclose to potential buyers or renters when a building contains flammable cladding.
  • That the NSW Government provide substantial funding for the rectification of buildings containing aluminium composite panels, and that these products be banned from the Australian market.
  • That the funding the NSW Government provide for flammable cladding be proportionate to that of the Victorian Government’s $600 million.
  • In circumstances where insurance has not provided a suitable solution to the flammable cladding issue, the NSW Government should take it upon itself to pay for the rectification of flammable cladding.

READ MORE from ‘NSW Parliament Report on Defects Crisis’

YET despite all of this … it is incredulous, isn’t it, that the perpetrators … those that own the housing development projects … continue, it seems, to get off ‘Scott free’?

… and NSW INC has now released a Second and Third Tranche of more Overdevelopment … and the Medium-Density Housing Code is to come into effect on 1 July 2020!!

Further this report, ‘It’s not fair: Sydney cladding crisis threatens to ‘crush families’ financially‘ reveals that NSW INC, it appears, due to decades of deregulation, have dodged a bullet because the new recommendations, it appears, are not retrospective!


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CAAN Photo: Or cladding material that may look like this?

A Certifier’s Response to … ‘The Certifier of the Tower deemed to be the Worst Development in Sydney is under Investigation!’

WE are all aware that there are some Certifiers who have worked in cahoots with dodgy developers, however, they should not all be tarred with the same brush!

CAAN shares this response from Steven to this article issued on CAAN about the Certifier under investigation regarding the high-rise development in Auburn.

Steven wrote:

The issues at this site are not the Certifiers doing, they are the dodgy builder and his dodgy sub contractors doings. Being under investigation does not mean being guilty.

When is the Government going to focus on the developer/builder instead of over regulating the regulator?

Certifiers can get fines of up to 200K and be tarnished through the media whilst these inept developer/builders continually get away with the same ‘shit’, and aren’t subject to fines or reprimands.

CAAN:  We wrote in the text to our intro: ‘Was Mr Storer employed by the developer, and if so, did the developer exert pressure upon the Certifier to issue the occupation certificate?

Following which Merhis was able to get customers who had bought apartments off the plan to settle!

In which case it would seem the developer ought be under investigation!’

Steven:  It’s not so much a matter of whether the developers exert pressure on Certifiers or not because most times Certifiers don’t even deal with the developer directly and more so deal with the principle contractor/builder.

The big issue is unskilled labour and poor workmanship by tradies and builders working to stupid time frames and not quality controlling their trades.

It’s not the Certifiers role to ensure quality control and we get wrapped into these messes because certain tradies and builders don’t give an F!

You can do an online course and be a builder or PM in 12 months!

You don’t need a licence or any qualification to install fire doors, fire seals, build fire walls, fire rate floors, columns etc, etc

But yet there is an expectation that Certifiers should be responsible for these imb.ciles and their lack of knowledge. We are constantly fighting with tradies regarding these issues (which is not our role).

For your info, to be an A1 Certifier you need a minimum of 6 years study and 8-10 years in the industry.

Our minimum PI insurance policies are circa 200+ pa.

On the flip side, to install a fire door to your apartment, the tradie needs a chisel, a drill, a tool bag, no licence, qualifications or insurance!

Why and how do we have a system where this is permissible?

Why is it that this Certifier is likely to now get fined for poor workmanship by tradies and the builder? Yet the tradies probably won’t even know about it, and be currently installing the same shit on the next apartment.

You want to fix the problem, start fining and reprimanding builders and tradies for unskilled and poor workmanship, and watch the quality of work surprisingly increase!

NSW is going to be left with no Certifiers willing to work in residential apartments very soon. Already 70% of Certifiers refuse to touch it,  and in that 70% sits the top end of town.

This Certifier is being tarnished because the SMH just like every other news outlet thrives on shock media. Why don’t they focus on the builder and his tradies?



The apartment block at 93 Auburn Road has significant building defects.
The apartment block at 93 Auburn Road has significant building defects.CREDIT:RHETT WYMAN

The Certifier of the Tower deemed to be the Worst Development in Sydney is under investigation

The apartment block at 93 Auburn Road has significant building defects.
The apartment block at 93 Auburn Road has significant building defects.CREDIT:RHETT WYMAN

Jason Storer, the Certifier who issued an interim occupation certificate for the Merhis Auburn Tower is under investigation. 

Was Mr Storer employed by the developer, and if so, did the developer exert pressure upon the Certifier to issue the occupation certificate?

Following which Merhis was able to get customers who had bought apartments off the plan to settle!

In which case it would seem the developer ought be under investigation!

MEANWHILE the Fair Trading investigation into Maurice Freixas who issued an occupation certificate for Peak Towers, the apartment building next to the Mascot Towers which the owners allege was the cause of the cracking in the Mascot Towers.

The Commissioner will be able to withhold occupation certificates so builders or developers will not be able to force buyers to settle on properties with defects.

If a buyer has taken a bank loan can they obtain insurance so that they are not forced in a predicament like this to either lose their deposit or buy and hope for the best?

Now that this development is under investigation what does that mean for the protection of the buyers investments?


A 16-Storey Auburn Apartment Tower nominated as the Worst for Defects opening the way for an Industry Shake-Up

CAN you believe it … that this is the worst? …

When they are everywhere!

NO doubt David Chandler has seen as bad if not worse …

DID the Commissioner have to back off from referring those who it seems have been instrumental in planning law changes in NSW?

WE know they hold the reins with their annointed one from the Property Council in Canberra … he who wrote their policy before entering politics …

SERIOUSLY … how can the Commissioner cut through?

IS this about NSW INC appearing to clean up the industry?

Focusing on a 16-storey Auburn apartment building full of fire hazards and defects months after owners and tenants moved in … when Sydney Precincts are riddled with defects

WHY has NSW INC delayed the powers of the NSW Building Commissioner until 1 September?

THE Commissioner visited this development by Merhis in October last year … at the urging of Fire and Rescue NSW because only one of its two lifts worked and it failed to meet fire safety, structural, and waterproofing standards!

IS the delay due to give this Cohort time to address (to fudge) issues?  Because the Commissioner will be returning to this Merhis development on 1 September …

DESPITE this Merhis … not unlike his mates … describes the buildings as ‘architectural landmarks of the finest standard’…

HOWEVER, the Commissioner has managed to get the new laws passed whereby with developments less than 10 years old owners can now sue those responsible for the defects.

-occupation certificates can be withheld

A further three orders were issued by the council with concerns about construction integrity.  When the Commissioner had found a lift shaft so far out of plumb the installers were unable to find a vertical pathway for the lift.  A layer of concrete was removed to make the lift fit but they had to resort to installing a smaller lift!

Yet the builder/developer claimed that many were latent defects or caused by extreme weather events or damage by tenants …



The Auburn apartment tower the building commissioner has named as 'probably the worst' he has seen.
The Auburn apartment tower the building commissioner has named as ‘probably the worst’ he has seen. CREDIT:KATE GERAGHTY

WILL the ‘New’ NSW Building Laws make Apartment Living Safe and Secure?

New NSW building law could be a game changer for apartment safety

Photo: The Conversation: New NSW building law could be a game changer

WILL the ‘New’ NSW Building Laws make Apartment Living Safe & Secure?

UNTIL now … apartment owners have had numerous obstructions in their way to seek redress! They will now be able to launch claims over cladding, water proofing and fire safety defects!

Two bills were passed last week … expected to take effect on 1 September 2020!

-The Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2020

-The Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Bill 2020

At the heart of the legislation … the Secretary of the Department of Customer Service will be able to order the correction of ‘serious defects’ in residential apartments.

-such powers will apply up to 10 years after an occupation certificate was provided

-to ensure defects are rectified prior to residents occupation a prohibition order can be provided to delay an occupation certificate

With the power to order rectification after developments are completed and the statutory duty of care will attract attention across Australia!

This is at the core of private development and the quality of developments too often left wanting …

IF one takes a moment to observe many Tradies … sadly they are always in a hurry … chasing the $$ … if the client questions they are told ‘Don’t stress’.  Unfortunately all too often the job can be left done with little care (half-arsed) to move onto the next job … and the next …

WHERE did this attitude stem from? Often it seems in contempt?

APART from the lack of pride in their work what has contributed to this?

-the demise of TAFE

-the loss of apprenticeships

-the shortage of qualified trades people

-the importation of Visa workers whose training may be unknown!

THAT aside Tradies/Contractors command very high fees e.g. $198/200 an hour compared to the $30/$50 (or less) for the rest of us!

Put that in the context of a multi-storey apartment development …

HENCE the need for defects to be rectified prior to the issue of the occupation certificate.

-the contractors then remain under pressure under their contracts

HOWEVER it is the ‘Developer’s Project’ and the developer calls the shots including cost cutting …

Is this where the contempt stems from?

WHAT will happen now … with this Sector having it so good for so long?

Will developers resort to the appeal mechanism? And in turn the contractors, subbies, and others … will they resort to relief provisions in their contracts?

WHAT then for the apartment owners and tenants?

WILL NSW INC ensure the Regulator has the resources?

MEANWHILE there’s hope … because NSW Lawmakers it appears have the momentum to attain the reform needed!



New NSW building law could be a game changer for apartment safety
Photo: The Conversation; David Chandler OAM; NSW Building Commissioner

THE NEWS we’ve been waiting for … Since it was discovered that MASCOT TOWERS were on unstable ground with loss of soil!

THE owners have voted to sue neighbouring property developer Aland over cracks

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CAAN Photo: Mascot Towers June 2019


LAST Week the Mascot Towers Owners Corporation voted to take legal action against ALAND, the developer of Peak Towers

A statement has been issued which reveals:

-the owners corporation has claimed following excavation work cracks appeared at Mascot Towers

-those constructing Peak Towers removed soil that supported the Mascot Towers

-that Aland’s shoring system was under-designed; piles incorrectly built; with inadequate waterproofing

-October 2019 tests found a loss of soil under the Mascot Towers near the boundary of Peak Towers

-earlier Aland refused to provide the engineers for Mascot Towers with access to inspect the Peak Towers basement

WILL NSW INC heed a message from this? With much of Sydney built on weathered sandstone ridges … and overdevelopment especially in and around Mascot … Ryde … Macquarie Park … MEADOWBANK … Sydney Olympic Park … the Upper North Shore that the Mascot Towers, the Opal Tower maybe but an indicator of more to come!


‘Mascot Tower owners vote to sue neighbouring property developer Aland over cracks’

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CAAN Photo: Mascot Towers June 2019

MASCOT TOWERS Apartment Owners being forced to take the Least Worst Option with Repair Bill of $53M

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CAAN Photo: Mascot Towers

Amy Greenbank writes in ‘Mascot Towers repair bill to hit $53 million prompting owners to consider selling’

Ongoing problems with the troubled Mascot Towers apartment building could see the repair bill blow out to more than $50 million, leaked emails reveal.

Key points:

  • Initial estimates put the repair bill at $7 million but that’s blown out to $32 million plus
  • An extra $21.5 million in interest on a 15-year loan will bring the final bill to $53.5 million
  • One apartment owner says the developer has gone into liquidation and can’t be held responsible for the bill

Mascot Towers, in Sydney’s south, has been plagued by structural issues and cracking since the complex was evacuated almost a year ago.

Now, owners are considering selling the beleaguered development.’

$10M more than previous estimates; an average of $400,000 for each owner (132 units)

‘Treacy Sheehan owns a three-bedroom penthouse in the complex and expects to pay an additional $5,000 a month towards the repairs.’

-in addition to strata fees, mortgages, utilities

‘A confidential email, obtained by the ABC, was sent to the building’s owners on Wednesday night by the Strata Committee.’

-the increased costs are due to problems with the facade

-a total of $3,880,000 allocated for the facade repair

WHAT have these home owners paid insurance for?

WHY isn’t the insurance industry demanding higher standards, restoration of regulations and standards to prevent these dire consequences?

-defective construction is widespread throughout the housing industry; not confined to apartment development

WHY isn’t the NSW Government going after the assets of the developer and builder?

WHAT is stopping them?

WHAT of the damage it is believed that has occurred due to the neighbouring construction of Peak Towers?

WHY should home owners be put in this predicament whereby they lose to benefit another developer who can buy this property at its land value to render Mascot Towers owners either homeless or to take on greater debt?

File:Johnny-automatic-scales-of-justice.svg - Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Johnny-automatic-scales-of-justice.svg From Wikimedia Commons

HOMEOWNERS are being forced to take the least-worst option … meanwhile the developer is free of responsibility through the ‘get out of gaol free card’ of liquidation … how convenient is that? Have these grubs got it all sewn up?

THE NSW Government it appears is doing the least it can do in covering rent for the displaced owners and residents while rectification work is being carried out. Simultaneously the government has launched yet another inquiry into building standards headed up by a Commissioner with limited powers …


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CAAN Photo: Mascot Towers 2019


THE brother of the very well-known developer Jean Nassif … Sarkis Nassif … ‘if there is one thing Sarkis Nassif hates, it’s being compared with his brother!’

Sarkis is richer … hasn’t been busted for cocaine possession … nor the subject of spoof online videos about a yellow Lamborghini …

Sarkis Nassif tarted working as a form worker for $60 a day in the 1980ss. He is now one of the state’s most successful developers.
Sarkis Nassif tarted working as a form worker for $60 a day in the 1980ss. He is now one of the state’s most successful developers; Daily Telegraph;

‘He’s gone on to make a hell of a lot of money turning Parramatta, MEADOWBANK, Burwood and Auburn into high-density neighbourhoods.’

Within the industry insiders say “he’s very well regarded and seen as decent to do business with”.

HOWEVER in July 2019 two Ryde apartment blocks built by Holdmark were issued with orders over concerns they had combustible cladding.

Read more:

AND now as reported by Ben Pike in ‘Holdmark Property Group’s Meadowbank apartment “defective” ‘ the Holdmark Property Group is accused of failing to fix significant defects at its 250 apartment Meadowbank development project 14 months after residents moved in …

Rod Jackson and fellow owners fear they could face enormous repair bills despite only having moved in a little over 12 months and a warranty period of six years!

Mr Jackson in 2018 bought a two-bedroom apartment off the plan for $970,000 claims Holdmark has failed to fix rotting gyprock walls, leaking lifts, glue bleeding out of the external stairs, crumbling sandstone walls and a central water fountain that remains closed.

‘The defects are so bad NSW Builder Commissioner David Chandler has personally stepped in to try and help desperate residents get the problems fixed.

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CAAN Photo from our ‘Godzillas with execessive Footprints’ report: Holdmark’s Nancarrow Avenue, Meadowbank development.

“These defects are a direct consequence of poor tradesmanship and shoddy building practice,” Mr Jackson said.

Further, a 10m wall on Nancarrow Ave will soon collapse without some serious rectification.

-a staircase with its wall collapsing with movement

WHY is it that the home owners believe they will have to wear the cost of demolition and reconstruction of the wall?

Thing sandstone tiles falling off the walls.
Thing sandstone tiles falling off the walls. Daily Teleraph Photo
The wall next to 6 Nancarrow Ave, Meadowbank. Picture: Christian Gilles
The wall next to 6 Nancarrow Ave, Meadowbank. Picture: Christian Gilles

‘A structural engineer, who did not want to be named, said “there might be some localised risk of dislodgement of small pieces of block or render — which even small pieces can be very dangerous falling from a height”.’

The Sunday Telegraph obtained a copy of the strata committee’s annual general meeting held in January which reveals the owners have had to engage lawyers to get Holdmark to fix the defects with a 20% strata fee increase to initiate legal proceedings

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CAAN Photo: the wall referred to above is next to this apartment development at 6 Nancarrow Avenue, Meadowbank.

Meanwhile the NSW Fair Trading Commissioner has assigned a case manager for the matter to assist these home owners. The Building Commissioner, David Chandler has got a commitment from Mr Nassif to attend to the concerns

Holdmark was provided with a list of questions including why so many Harvard building apartments owned by the company remain empty.

PERHAPS CAAN can answer that question … because it is a consequence, no doubt, of the FIRB Ruling allowing developers like Holdmark to sell up to 100% of ‘new homes’ to foreign buyers who can park their money in Australia’s domestic real estate, and leave them vacant

Foreign buyers can also launder ‘black money’ in residential property because the Real Estate Gatekeepers are exempt from Anti-Money Laundering Laws (Morrison Govt October 2018)

*WHY not share to let others know? SEARCH CAAN Website for reports on these matters … *

The Harvard Building Apartment Owners were fobbed off with the reply:

“As the building you refer to has been handed over to the Body Corporate Association, your questions should be sent directly to them for comment,” the spokeswoman said.

“Holdmark is absolutely committed to maintaining an ongoing association with the body corporate for the building during the statutory warranty period.

The external stairwell has been closed for more than a year and is next to a wall owner Rod Jackson claims could collapse within two years.
The external stairwell has been closed for more than a year and is next to a wall owner Rod Jackson claims could collapse within two years.

AND that Holdmark would continue to work with the body corporate and strata manager to resolve any issue brought to their attention.

IS that good enough? WHY should owners not only at Holdmark’s Meadowbank development but home owners across the board ‘face financial ruin’ from defective work? For two-bed homes close on $1M?

ASK why are the Building Commissioner’s powers are so limited? Cough … cough …

2012 study by City Futures surveyed 1,020 strata owners across NSW, and found 72% of all respondents (85% in buildings built since 2000) knew of at least one significant defect in their complex.

damning 2015 report from Engineers Australia found that 85% of new strata units were defective on completion and the certification system in NSW had “broken down”.

In 2017 a City of Sydney survey identified defects and maintenance as the top concern of owner occupiers of apartments, along with short-term letting through organisations such as Airbnb.

NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge said:

“The extent of defects in high rise apartments are so widespread that I would find it difficult to believe any apartment constructed in the last decade is free of them,” he said.

“The most common, and often the most expensive, problem that keeps being identified is the failure of waterproofing.”