House & Deck Damage


A prominent NRL player purchased a residential property near the beachfront at Merewether;  the property had a large stormwater drainage line underneath and along the boundary with the adjoining land.  The house on the property was an elevated brick building with substantial basement / ground floor area and a large entertaining deck.

Some years later, a volume project builder purchased the adjoining property and proceeded to construct a duplex residential development, which included a single level basement carpark within the sand substrata.  To provide support to the excavation in sand, sheet piling was installed along the boundary.

During the installation of the sheet piling and subsequently, significant cracking and other damage occurred to the NRL player’s property.  As a result, the project builder engaged two engineers to determine the extent of the damage caused by the sheet piling and excavation construction works as well is the necessary remedial works.  These engineers determined that the cost of the necessary rectification works was less than $5,000.

As the NRL player considered that this monetary sum was totally inadequate, SCE were engaged to determine the cause of the damage, as well as the scope of the required works.

These investigations revealed that:

  • The damage was much more extensive and reported on by the project builder’s engineers.

The damage had been caused by:

  1. the driving of sheet piling close to / within the backfill materials associated with the stormwater drainage line, in combination with;
  2. movement of the sheet pile wall as the excavation proceeded.
  3. As well as the damage sustained to the house itself, the entertaining deck was at a substantial risk of collapse.
  4. Rectification works approaching $100,000 were necessary.

Whilst the NRL player’s claim was initially firmly resisted by the project builder, after the rear deck collapsed as predicted by SCE, the matter was settled on terms very favourable to the NRL player