It has been a month since news came out about a 11-year old apartment building in Yokohama that was starting to tilt due to a construction mistake.
The building’s owners association have been fighting with developer, Sumitomo Realty & Development, for several years over the issue. Last month it was announced that Sumitomo had asked the residents to move out and are in the process of arranging temporary accommodation.
Built in 2003, Park Square Mitsuzawa Koen is a five-building complex containing 262 apartments. Three years after completion, residents noticed that the guardrails in the hallway connecting one building to the other were out of alignment and cracks had formed where the rails were joined together. Sumitomo insisted that this was just a result of absorbing shocks caused by earthquakes. The owners association only found out that one of the buildings was leaning after carrying out an investigation during large-scale maintenance and repair work in 2013. Sumitomo again insisted that the building was safe and that there was no problem. They also said that any repair costs should be borne by the apartment owners.
Further investigation by the residents found that the building’s foundation piles might not have been sunk deep enough to reach solid ground.
Since the building violates the Building Standards Act, Yokohama City has ordered it to be repaired or rebuilt, however the process is expected to take some time. Since the faulty building forms part of a five-building complex, agreement must be obtained from residents of all five buildings.
The owners association decided to make this information public at a press conference on June 10. The decision to go public was met with some resistance from Sumitomo, with some residents alleging that Sumitomo’s representative responded with threats that they will ruin not only the value of the apartments in the complex, but could also damage Sumitomo’s brand as a developer.
According to the Kanagawa Shimbun, sources in the architecture and construction industry expect there to be many more cases of structural defects in buildings which are never disclosed to the public.
Source: The Kanagawa Shimbun, July 10, 2014.