Updated: investigation into the Opal Tower defects

An interim investigation has been undertaken into the Opal Tower defects by independent professional experts at the request of the NSW Government.

A report was provided and has been made public so those interested in it can find the full document here.

To recap, the Opal Tower is a 36 storey apartment tower located in Sydney’s Olympic Park precinct. It was completed in 2018 with residents moving in not long after.

On Christmas Eve 2018, residents heard loud noises, including a ‘bang’. Investigations found large cracks in a load-bearing panel on level 10. Further investigations found cracked structural concrete on level 4. Over four days, residents were evacuated, allowed back to their apartments and then evacuated again.

The report’s Executive Summary provides answers to some of the common questions that have been asked.

The report indicates that overall the building is structurally sound and not in danger of collapsing. However, the report says that significant rectification works are needed.

In addition to the rectification works, a number of design and construction issues have been identified that together have probably caused the damage to some structural parts of the building. This will require further investigation.

Recommendations include that independent qualified structural engineers be engaged to check the final proposal in detail before major rectification works commence. As well, further analysis should be undertaken of the structural design with some construction elements strengthened as they occur throughout the building.

Of course the unseen damage is to residents and owners who have had to move out of their relatively new homes and to the reputation of the property developers and the building itself. For example, apartments are now worth 50 percent less according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 20 January.

A building company with a similar name to the Opal’s developers has had to post a message on its website that it is not associated with the building. Meanwhile the company that did develop the building has distanced itself from the project.

Clearly there is more to come especially with the NSW Government also now involved. We’ll keep you posted.


On 22 February 2019, days after publishing this story, the NSW Government released its final report into the issues surrounding the Opal Tower building failure.

A copy of the Minister for Planning’s media release is here, however we have provided the main points below to save you some time. The final report found:

  • a number of structural design and construction issues, including non-compliance with national codes and standards were responsible for the observed damage at Opal Tower.
  • some of the as-constructed hob beams and panel assemblies were under designed according to the National Construction Code and Australian Standards, leaving the beams prone to failure.
  • construction and material deficiencies likely contributed to the damage to the hob beams on levels 4 and 10.
  • the building is overall structurally sound and the localised damage to the building can be rectified to ensure the building is compliant with the National Construction Code.

A number of recommendations were made including the creation of a new Building Structure Review Board to establish and publish the facts relating to major structural damage of buildings arising from structural design and construction, to investigate their causes and to recommend regulatory changes as needed.

A full copy of the final report is available at: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/finalopalreport.

The NSW Government’s full response to the Shergold Weir Report is available on the Fair Trading website.