Watchdog’s biting warning to dodgy developers

23 Halifax Street Maquarie Park
The developers behind a 900-home apartment complex have responded to an order issued by the NSW Building watchdog to fix a number of serious defects. Picture: Supplied

NSW’s building watchdog has issued a scathing warning to dodgy developers after a Sydney apartment complex was issued an order to correct “serious damage” which could lead to “the threat of collapse” if unresolved.

On Monday, Building Commission NSW issued a Building Work Rectification Order (BWRO) to developer Greenland Australia over the Lachlan’s Line building at 23 Halifax St, Macquarie Park.

The order identified “serious damage” and deterioration in the concrete slabs at joint locations between the basement and ground floor, which could “cause the basement slab to fail, and threaten the long-term stability of the building”.

But Building Commission NSW says there is no danger to the residents of that building.

“The order, issued on the 15 January 2024 to the 23 Halifax Street developer, relates to the long-term durability of the basement levels of the building, not to any units within the complex. The issue is not structural,” it said in a statement.

NSW’s Building Commissioner David Chandler has issued a broader warning to any developer who cuts corners or attempts to scapegoat blame to certifiers, builders, designers and engineers.

“You can make good choices and bad choices. That message is starting to get through to developers now,” he said.

“Stop making the shoddy decisions that you used to once make.”

23 Halifax Street Maquarie Park
The developers behind 23 Halifax Street Macquarie Park were issued with the order on Monday. Picture. Supplied

Mr Chandler said he was “confident” the developers had given him assurances that the defects will be rectified, and said Greenland Australia should be liable for the cost of repairs.

“You can count on it, they will be,” he said.

“I want the public to understand there’s no imminent risk to this building or the safety of the people in it,” he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, NSW Acting Building Minister Paul Scully reiterated that the defects were not structural and did not pose a safety risk to residents.

Mr Scully urged owners to work with the NSW Building Commissioner on the rectification of the building and said concerns over long-term durability were “completely fixable”.

NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler told developers to stop making ‘shoddy decisions’. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Dylan Robinson

“There’s a program of works that needs to be done over the coming months but you should not be fearful of your unit. There is no structural concern,” he said.

He said the order should put dodgy developers and builders on notice.

“This is an example of the Building Commissioner doing exactly what we set it up to do,” Mr Scully said.

“There’s no doubt there’s been some confidence issues creep into some of the builds … the Building Commissioner is doing the good work that we expected him to do.”

Issuing a response on Wednesday night, the Shanghai-founded group said it had been “fully co-operating” with Building Commission NSW after it received the draft order in October, and said there was “no risk of collapse of the building’s towers”.

“Greenland engaged multiple, suitably qualified engineering consultants to undertake investigations in accordance with the requests of the Commission, within the Draft BWRO,” it said.

“Their initial investigations have identified the BWRO issues are localised in the lower car park levels only and that there is no risk of collapse of the building’s towers.

“There is no serious damage or serious structural defects at the project, as some media outlets have claimed.”

The developers said it had “undertaken additional investigations” and remained committed to “working closely with the Commission to satisfactorily resolve the situation”.

Lachlan's Line development in Macquarie Park
The developers, Greenland Australia said they will continue working with Building Commission NSW

It also said there were no other buildings under its portfolio which was impacted by this issue.

In a statement sent on Wednesday afternoon, the Building Commission also said there was no immediate threat posed by the defects.

“There is no danger to the residents who live in the apartments at 23 Halifax Street, Macquarie Park from the defects identified which relate to the long-term durability of the basement levels of the building only, not to any units within the complex,” a spokesperson said.

The Lachlan's ’s Line development was completed in February 2020 and built by GN Residential Construction Pty Ltd.

In June 2023, NSW Fair Trading permanently disqualified its contractor license, and imposed a 10-year disqualification on its director Nicholas Kodomichalos, after 18-year-old apprentice Christopher Cassaniti died at the Lachlan’s Line project in April 2019.

He suffered fatal injuries after overloaded scaffolding collapsed on him, trapping Mr Cassaniti and another worker who was critically injured in the incident.