The redevelopment of existing suburbs to increase housing density has led to an increased need for “Dilapidation Reports” by the building industry and switched-on neighbours. Older homes in the inner suburban areas are often candidates to be replaced with townhouses or apartments. Many of these redevelopments involve demolition of the existing building and a large, deep excavation to allow for underground car parking and storage facilities.

One of the most dangerous times is when deep excavations have taken place on or near a boundary and there is heavy rain which can change soil conditions quickly. A major landslip may cause financial disaster for both the owner of the property being renovated or built and the neighbouring property owners as it can end in a costly legal dispute involving all parties.

The issue becomes very clear when a home with a party wall is demolished, which can leave the remaining home in a perilous position. Many of these buildings are older structures with footings over one hundred years old and they are very vulnerable to changes in soil condition, especially if there is existing cracking or damage in the property. The current economic climate can also create a major problem when, after these deep excavations are completed, the developer may delay the project because of financial stress.

A Dilapidation Report records the condition of buildings before work begins to reduce the risk of confusion and the potential for a protracted and expensive legal argument. If people are worried about the impact of a proposed major demolition, excavation or construction next door, it is sensible to approach the contractor or council about having a Dilapidation Report carried out before work begins.

These Reports are used to avoid argument as they provide a factual basis and pictorial record of the property by an Independent expert. If a court case eventuates the Report can be used by a developer to ensure they have a correct record of the status of neighbouring properties and also by smart home owners to protect their interests.

A major court case can often cost more than the repairs, which makes it vital to have an accurate picture and report of the state of the building before any demolition or excavation works commence. Home owners adjacent to major infrastructure projects such as roads or bridges should request Dilapidation Reports to be carried out on their homes and surrounding areas to avoid any confusion if damage eventuates from the project so they have supporting evidence for their claim.