A terrified Opal Tower resident says she is hundreds of dollars out of pocket and terrified to return home to the Sydney apartment block that was evacuated on Christmas Eve.
Delsa Daryaei told Daily Mail Australia on Thursday – four days after she was evacuated – that despite her constant attempts, she had been given no information as to what exactly was wrong with the building or when she could go home.
She said she had been living in a hotel at her own expense, with vague promises of remuneration, and had only just convinced the builder, Icon Construction, to book and pay for her hotel room directly.
But Ms Daryaei, a building designer herself, said even with her room paid for, there were exorbitant extra costs she and the other residents would have to cover, and she simply couldn’t afford it.
Ms Daryaei (pictured with her mother Mojgan) said she had been living in a hotel at her own expense, with vague promises of remuneration, and had only just convinced the builder, Icon Construction, to book and pay for her hotel room directly
Delsa Daryaei said despite her constant attempts, she had been given no information as to what exactly was wrong with Opal Tower or when she could go home
The building, which has sold 151 of its 392 apartments and contains a childcare centre, reportedly suffered a crack to a pre-cast panel, which left some units at ‘high risk’, though the builders maintain the tower is safe to inhabit
‘If the situation continues for a month, what will happen to us,’ she said.
‘Yeah they’re paying for a hotel, but what about the food? There are no cooking facilities at the hotel.
‘I’ve run out of money.’
Ms Daryaei says she also has to pay for parking at the hotel, and has been told she will need to pay rent on her unlivable apartment as well.
‘We rent the house, and the real estate agent called me today, telling me he “just saw the news” and asked if there was anything he could help me with,’ she said.
‘I said “can you help me move out”, but he said I have to call fair trading to break the lease.
‘I said I couldn’t pay the rent until they can clarify what would happen, because we are paying for hotels, and he said “no, you have to pay rent”.’
Residents from 51 units in a brand new sky-rise apartment block have been left displaced after a panel on the building cracked on Christmas Eve (pictured: An apartment on level 10 of the building, where plaster has cracked off the wall and a notice of evacuation has been placed on the door)
Another shot of a collapsed panel on the outside of the tower – one of 16 affected
One of the units marked as off limits with police tape in the hall and a notice on the door
When she was evacuated, Ms Daryaei says she was directed from her 32nd floor apartment to the fire stairs, which were ‘full of crying residents’.
‘It was packed with people, and everyone was crying,’ she said. ‘Some people had to leave pets inside.’
Even if Ms Daryaei was to return home, she says she would not be comfortable. The Sydney woman says when she returned to her apartment to collect some belongings, a fireman had to exert extreme force to open her front door.
‘Once we got inside the building, we couldn’t open the front door. The fireman who escorted us had to push the door so hard,’ she said.
Ms Daryaei says she also has to pay for parking at the hotel, and has been told she will need to pay rent on her unlivable apartment as well
Ms Daryaei was only of dozens of angry residents who crashed a press conference or vented their issues as Icon’s NSW Director Julian Doyle (right) addressed the media
‘When I tried to come out, I couldn’t open the door to get out. Now I wonder, if anything else happened to the building, how would we get out?’
Ms Daryaei lives with her mother Mojgan, and says the woman is so overwhelmed by the situation she is in tears and refuses to talk about it.
Only 51 of the tower’s 392 units were evacuated, meaning many residents have still been living inside the building, as their apartments are not considered ‘high risk’.
Opal Tower is only months old
The 117m Opal tower has 392 apartments over 38 storeys along with a childcare centre and other businesses and amenities.
Brand new high rise was built alongside numerous other similar blocks in Olympic Park as it transforms into a major population centre.
The building was only completed in March and opened in August, and cost $165 million to build by developer Ecove, which built many of the others nearby.
Two-bedroom apartments are on sale for $934,000 and one bedrooms for $620,000.
‘People inside the building are really really scared. I’m really worried for them. If there’s a risk, surely it is for everyone,’ Ms Daryaei said.
‘If it’s cracked, it won’t just collapse on one side, the whole thing will collapse. How can you risk people’s lives?’
On Thursday, Icon Construction announced all residents would be ‘relocated’ from the building ‘to enable comprehensive investigations to continue into the cracking of a pre-cast panel that occurred on Christmas Eve’.
The company assured residents the building, which cost $165million to build, was safe, but moving everyone out would allow engineers to repair any issues in ‘the quickest time possible’.
Ms Daryaei was only of dozens of angry residents who crashed a press conference or vented their issues as Icon’s NSW Director Julian Doyle addressed the media.
‘No, I can’t guarantee the residents will be back in 10 days,’ he admitted.
Mr Doyle insisted the tower’s construction was not rushed and kicking residents out was simply to ‘expedite’ investigations and repairs.
‘If we leave the residents in place then we’ll be still trying to get access to various areas of the building for the next three months,’ he said.
On Christmas Eve, as many as 3,000 people were evacuated from the building and its surrounds, and many are still without a home
‘We’re spending a lot of time and energy with a team of the country’s best engineers to try and understand why this actually took place 18 months after it was installed.
‘Getting it right is most important and looking after the residents is most important.’
Mr Doyle said the same panels were in use in 16 other areas where the crack was running through the wall.
But Ms Daryaei was not impressed by Icon’s promises and was fearful that the building was still not safe.
‘Of course I’m scared, everyone is scared,’ she said.
‘They forced the people on the first night to move in and today they said ‘no, everyone has to move out’. You cannot be calm. It’s not normal.’
Ms Daryaei said although the building company was doing its best to keep residents calm, ‘people are angry here’.
It’s unknown when the residents from the 51 units deemed unsafe will be allowed to return after they were escorted to their homes early on Christmas Day to collect their belongings
One woman who has remained inside Opal Tower is reportedly unable to sleep, and her husband was forced to wait 25 minutes one morning for a lift to come to his floor, as only two are currently in operation.
Top architects are ‘bewildered’ as to how cracks formed in the wall of the brand new tower block on Monday.
Residents said they heard loud cracks coming from the 10th floor through the morning and raised the alarm about 2.45pm.
Firefighters and public works engineers found a large crack along an internal support wall after the building moved one to two millimetres.
A shocking photo from inside the building showed a plaster wall collapsed in a heap and a crack down the length of the wall. Yellow tape was on the door handle.
On Thursday, waterproofing consultant Ross Taylor wrote in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald that the Opal Tower disaster was reflective of issues that had plagued other new high-rise buildings.
He said other structures had experienced similar issues, though because they had been more gradual, they had not made headlines in the same way.
In some buildings, Mr Taylor claims buildings have sagged nearly two centimetres, causing cracks and water pooling.
On Thursday, Icon Construction told residents everyone would be evacuated from the building for up to 10 days
‘Such stories are being lived throughout our apartment boom-burdened major cities by owners who suspected nothing when they bought,’ he wrote.
‘Culprits and scapegoats for these and other defects are sometimes found but root causes are rarely identified.’
Opal Tower is one of several new apartment towers in Olympic Park and cost $165 million to build.
It was developed by Ecove, which also built many other new towers in the suburb along with One30 Hyde Park tower in the Sydney CBD.
Two-bedroom apartments are on sale for $934,000 and one bedrooms for $620,000.
‘We are deeply sympathetic for the concern and anxiety of residents and owners and are actively following up the builder and the builder’s engineers to hopefully provide residents and owners with further information,’ Ecove said.
The tower was designed by architecture firm Bates Smart and built by Icon Construction.
Pictured: A notice placed on the door of one of the 51 units deemed unsafe by public works engineers