Woodbridge: infill blamed for home damage

Sophie Osterloh spent months researching and spent a considerable amount of money on consultants to ensure her house did not succumb to damage.
Sophie Osterloh spent months researching and spent a considerable amount of money on consultants to ensure her house did not succumb to damage.

Homeowners in Woodbridge are warning against the risks of infill development after a property was left with significant damage after construction behind their home.

Neighbours Sophie Osterloh and Francis Calabrese are encouraging house owners to get pre-construction dilapidation reports where developments could put their properties at risk.

Ms Calabrese said since the property behind her elderly parents’ house was cleared and site works started in mid-2015, their house had suffered from pooling water and condensation under the flooring, which has resulted in the growth of white mould.

She said initial investigations by a plumber ruled out problems with their house.

It was believed poor drainage on the property behind and water pooling from under the retaining wall was to blame.

“We never had any problems prior to the site works starting but now we have water constantly pooling under the back retaining wall, rising dampness and white mould growing under the flooring,” she said.

“The house is noticeably colder and there is a musty smell which was never there before.”

Ms Calabrese said the house had been at the site works phase for three years and despite complaints to the builders and the City of Swan, nothing had been done to fix the problem.

She said the house also had no back fence and there was no |privacy, with anyone able to |walk into the back of their property.

Ms Calabrese said the initial site works and retaining walls were done without building approval, but the owner received retrospective approval from the City. She said the development had been stalled for three years, with a new builder taking over the project recently.

“Over the past three years I have made a number of visits to the City of Swan, but my complaints have not been satisfactorily dealt with and the focus was on the perceived shortcomings of my parents’ home,” she said.

“There have been no thorough investigations. Unless the drainage is fixed to prevent water running into the property and the flooring is completely replaced, my elderly mother will eventually be unable to live here.”

However, because Ms Calabrese’s parents never prepared a pre-construction dilapidation report there is no way to prove the cause of the damage.

“I want to ensure this doesn’t happen to someone else. Other people know what they need to do to avoid being in this situation,” Ms Calabrese said.

Ms Osterloh, who lives on the same street as Ms Calabrese, said she had spent months researching and spent a considerable amount of money on consultants to ensure her house did not succumb to the same fate after the City approved a block of units in the property adjacent to hers.

She said drainage in the City was a concern because of clay soils, so subsoil drainage systems needed to be a requirement in the site works phase.

“I couldn’t believe that the lack of boundary setbacks, building bulk and the rising damp issue my neighbours were experiencing was not enough of a reason for the City of Swan to take notice,” she said.

Swan chief executive Mike Foley said while the City’s building surveyor identified that poor drainage had possibly caused the down flow of water into the Calabrese property, the City could not confirm that this was the cause.

“The City of Swan has investigated Ms Calabrese’s complaints and provided her with advice of August 31 2015,” he said.

“Ms Calabrese is encouraged to get in touch with the City if she would like to discuss the matter further.”

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