Dutch Bottle has means to address damage to property caused by adjacent construction

Dear Editor,

In an article which appeared in SN on March 6, it was reported that Ms Chuck- A-Sang, owner of the Dutch Bottle Cafe, a colonial-style building on North Road, expressed concern regarding damage to her 100-year property from vibrations generated by piles being driven for the foundation of an adjoining three-story building under construction by Crown Mining Supplies (CMS).

If she had made a complaint to M&CC about the vibrations, it is unlikely that any action would have been taken against CMS, since it seems that its project has satisfied the relevant building permits.

However, any construction cannot endanger the integrity of adjoining properties without consequences and therefore Ms Chuck-A-Sang has means to address the issue with respect to damage to her property caused by adjacent construction activities. Firstly, she should take photographs of her entire property, inside and outside as well as the site where the piles are being driven. As construction progresses she should look for cracks, floor movements and any noticeable changes to her building, taking photographs of them with dates together and a brief description of the changes, for record. Next, she should appoint an attorney-at-law to serve notice on CMS to cease its pile-driving activities stating the reason that it was damaging her property, etc, and that she expects to be compensated for the damage done. If no action is taken, she should continue to record all damage as it occurs.

When CMS completes its construction, Ms Chuck-A-Sang should engage an engineer/quantity surveyor to itemize the damage done to her property with estimated costs to repair it. With this information, her attorney-at-law could then file a claim in the court to recoup costs to repair the damage done. This should be undertaken only after an out of court settlement with CMS has failed. My experience in these matters shows she has nothing to lose and all to gain.

Construction work including the driving of foundation piles for any structure has to be carried out in a carefully planned manner to ensure that the integrity of adjoining properties is not compromised. Foundation piles could be installed without vibration as an experienced engineer could attest, but it needs the equipment and skilled personnel to do so. It appears CMS has neither of these.

Yours faithfully,

Charles Sohan

(Chartered Engineer)

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