In 1990, a conventional two-storey residential flat building, with car parking at ground level, was constructed on a site in Mona Vale. In 2002, building works were commenced on the adjoining property, with these works including the construction of a single level car park basement. The carpark excavation was supported by steel sheet piling & screw anchors.
When the excavation for the basement had progressed several metres, the steel sheet piling moved and the residential building tilted approximately 70 mm. Other cracking & movement within the building was also observed. As a consequence, a series of steel / concrete pile underpins had to be installed to support the residential building and arrest further movement.
In the resulting legal disputation concerning the damage, the residential building owner expended significant expert & legal costs [circa $300,000]. Later, the expert reports provided to the residential building owner were found by the various legal advisors to be faulty and conflicting; as a consequence, the position became that rather than the residential building owner being successful in its claim, the organisations who had undertaken the excavation were going to be successful and entitled to a refund of their considerable legal & other costs [in excess of $ 400,000].
Subsequently, and after advice from another legal counsel, SCE were engaged by the residential building owner. SCE then undertook a detailed investigation and determined that the cause of the building tilt and cracking was the undertaking of the excavation on the adjoining land without effective prior underpinning, in combination with faulty installation of the anchors associated with the sheet piles.
In the ensuring revitalised litigation, SCE's opinions were accepted by the court, with the consequence that the residential building owner was successful, recovered all of its legal costs, and received compensation for the extensive damage [in excess of $ 1,500,000].