Residential Excavation


A residential development was proposed on a sloping site, with sensitive buildings adjacent.  The excavation was to be about 9 m deep in sandstone bedrock.

SCE were initially commissioned to undertake a geotechnical investigation;  the ensuing SCE report recommended that the excavation have steeply sloping sides due to the presence of seams and other defects in the rock mass.

Subsequently, the owner & architect decided to ignore the SCE recommendation of an excavation with steeply sloping sides and effective subsoil drainage, and designed a building that required vertical excavations.  This development was subsequently approved by the Council.

Later, during the course of construction SCE was requested to attend site on a number of occasions to assess the stability of the excavation.  During the course of these site inspections, SCE advised on measures to stabilise the vertical excavation, and warned the owner / architect of the potential for building dampness issues due to the inadequate drainage between the building structure and the excavation.

Unfortunately, SCE’s advice in relation to the necessary drainage between the structure and the rock excavation was ignored by the builder, architect and project structural engineer.  As a consequence, a number of problems later occurred due to both faulty building works, and the only partially effective drainage between the building structure and the excavation.

Regrettably, and although SCE offered assistance to the owner in relation to the ensuring litigation, the owner relied on other engineering experts.  As a consequence, the litigation was largely unsuccessful, and the owner left with a damp & wet residential building and large legal costs.