"Substantial injury or death from the falling tiles" - council

The Auckland Council has issued a dangerous building notice to owners and residents of the 16-level Pinnacle Apartments, warning that someone could be killed by tiles falling from the floors of balconies in the high-rise.

"Substantial injury or death from the falling tiles," is how Mark Macdonald, the council's building compliance team leader, termed the potential dangers posed by the 63-unit high-rise block near the Grafton Bridge.

Residents have been told to "immediately lock the doors accessing the balcony in your dwelling. Once this is achieved, you have until March 24 to remove the danger."

The Pinnacle is a glass-clad tower at 18 St Martins Lane, Grafton, off Symonds St. The block was finished just after Christmas.

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Pinnacle developer Marty Kells said there had been no injury and all 60 balconies on the building would be fixed shortly.

"No tiles have fallen off and no one has been hurt. People will be there tomorrow fixing them - three floors a day," Kells said.

Advertising of apartments, which Kells said were now re-selling for $100,000 more than buyers originally paid, emphasised quality and location.

"Pinnacle is an amazing new complex that epitomises sophisticated city living and is surrounded by green leafy trees giving it a park like feel while still being located in the central city," said marketing by one major real estate agency.

Macdonald explained why the dangerous building notice was put on the block: "This has been issued as the balcony has floor tiles fitted that, if weight is applied to them, can tip and fall to the levels below. This causes not only a danger to the persons occupying the deck, but to others directly below."

Sally Grey, the council's weathertightness and compliance building control manager, explained more after the Herald made inquiries.

"Auckland Council has concerns about the pavers on the decks of this building and the risk of them detaching, or breaking and falling. Apartments are able to be occupied but all the decks are to be closed until the pavers are made safe. There is no risk with occupation of the apartments. The risk is to persons or property below the decks, and we need to be assured that risk will be minimised until repairs are done," Grey said.

The council's formal notice said: "If a tile should fall from a balcony, a gap between the glass balustrade and the balcony of up to 140mm is accessible. Maximum allowable gap is 100mm.

"Some tiles have been scribed around the balustrade posts. This creates weak spots where there are internal corners, exacerbating the risk of tiles breaking and falling if weight is applied."

Kells said the block posed no dangers to passersby because the likelihood of a tile falling was low to begin with and if one tile did fall, it would most likely drop down to the next balcony below rather than outside the block.

The apartments were developed in a former office block that had eight floors added to the top, he said.

"It's got code compliance but the council is worried because it's quite windy there and because they are curved decks with big tiles. We will have the tiles back by March 20," Kells said.