The builders of Sydney's cracked Opal Tower say most residents will be able to move back in on the weekend but the owners' committee isn't convinced and is urging people not to return yet.
The newly-built tower in Sydney Olympic Park was evacuated on Christmas Eve after cracks found in the building sparked fears it could collapse.
The tower’s builder, Icon, said on on Thursday that design engineer WSP and a third party engineer Rincovich Partners had confirmed the building would be safe for reoccupation following the completion of stabilising works due to be finalised on Friday.
Apartments requiring no remedial works will be safe to occupy from Saturday, Icon’s letter to residents states, but other apartments needing minor works won’t be ready for another week.
Units requiring more serious remedial work won’t be ready for up to six weeks.
Icon added the caveat that it was still waiting on advice from Cardno – the body corporate’s engineers – and professors appointed by the government.
The Opal Tower strata committee is urging residents not to move back in until all the experts agree it’s safe to do so.
“Unless all the above organisations agree that the building is safe for re-occupation and can provide a written statement to that affect then residents should err on the side of caution,” the committee wrote in an email to residents on Friday.
“It is important to ensure that residents do not take any unnecessary risks.”
The strata committee is urging Icon to continue funding emergency hotel accommodation beyond Sunday so as “not to place any pressure on the residents to return”.
Planning Minister Anthony Roberts is expected to receive the independent investigation by university engineering experts Mark Hoffman and John Carter later on Friday.
The professors last week said they’d found no problem with the foundations of the building but a number of design and construction issues.
Labor’s housing spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk on Friday accused the coalition of deploying a “veil of secrecy” after News Corp Australia reported the government’s Sydney Olympic Park Authority could be liable to pay compensation as the landowner.
Ms Mihailuk called for the government to release the terms of the agreement between the authority and developer Ecove.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill but they will given the way it’s playing out,” she said in a statement.
“It could end up costing millions.”
AAP understands some apartment owners are already in discussions with lawyers regarding potential class-action suits against whoever is found to be liable for the tower’s woes.
The strata committee said residents should be able to choose whether they reoccupy the building during repairs that would create “unwanted noise and debris”.
Not all lifts and car spaces would be available as well, the committee added.
“The building was brand new when purchased and the owners have a right to request an ‘as new building’.”
Icon last week defended gutting some apartments in order to install equipment propping up concrete slabs separating floors.