Development damages our properties

Therese Russell, Fresnaye

Having read the article “Construction inconvenience”, Atlantic Sun, March 15, I would like to bring to your notice the situation on a building site at 19 Monastery Road, which has access from Avenue St Charles.

I live at 17 Monastery Road and since this development began a year ago, thousands of rands of damage have been done to our property and a couple of other properties in this road.

A lawyer’s letter to the developer has been ignored.

This damage is still visible and increases by the day. I would be happy to show you and introduce you to neighbours who have damage to their properties as well. We have photos of every instance and a list of unanswered complaints to City council building officials.

Yesterday a massive drill arrived to dig for a borehole about 2 metres from our wrecked side wall. When they struck water a huge gush erupted which happily hit the front of their block but poured over the wall into our yard raining down gravel and stones of which some hit me on the head.

The law enforcement officers were here and witnessed the event and noted that the truck blocked Avenue St Charles for two days while this went on. Also reported on piles of bricks and debris on pavement.

We are living in a nightmare. I have attached a list of my damages. There are a couple of neighbours who will be happy to report their own horror stories. These issues do not include the dirt, dust, noise which has continued for eight hours every day, six days a week, for 13 months.

Issues and structural damages have included: The digging/ demolition machine hit the side wall of the house (not the boundary wall) and chipped a hole in the plaster, all ledges, surfaces, canopies over the doors, window sills and roofs are covered in splattered plaster that has hardened and is now unremovable.

The ground, garden pathways, tiles and stones have splattered plaster bits that are unremovable.

Garden gravel stones which used to be terracotta are now grey from the cement plaster dust and cement splatters.

The side wall of the house (double-storied) is covered in chips and spattered cement.

Sections of the garden are dead due to cement dust pouring over the boundary wall and killing the plants. There are cracks in the bordering wall due to the builders building directly against our wall. Plasterwork on the boundary wall is damaged and has broken off in huge chunks on their side.

On a few rare occasions (after many complaints) the builders have used a net cladding that billowed in the wind like the spinnaker on a yacht, causing anything and everything in and around the net to fly over the wall and into our garden.

Small pieces of Styrofoam from the building site have constantly rained down on our property and into the surrounding streets, only to end up in the stormwater drain system.

Large chunks of Styrofoam from the building site once blew around in gale force winds, breaking the electric wiring on a street pole and landing on my car and damaging the paintwork.

Packaging from goods used on site such as plastic cold drink bottles and general rubbish from the workers are left on the site to blow into our property and surrounding properties and down the road.

A huge iron scaffolding beam was dropped onto our property directly in front of our front door and smashed the storm drain. This would have killed one of us or one of our pets if anyone had been there at the time.

On another occasion, a large iron hammer was dropped in the same place, which we believe was deliberate due to the site receiving complaints.

On the day the builders finished work for the holidays and left the site, my car was covered down one side and on the front with spattered cement, which was very obviously flicked on with a large paint brush on purpose.

Work on the site was mostly carried out without protective netting or with one that was absolutely useless at catching anything or protecting our property. Workers did not wear helmets or any safety gear or harnesses.

I wrote on numerous occasions to the building inspector’s office, filled in complaint forms, asked for help from the Department of Labour, but no one was interested in advising or helping us. All the neighbours in this road and in Avenue St Charles have been witnesses to the development by builders with no regard or respect for other people’s property. They have also added portions to the building that are not on plan.

I have photos of the damage to our house and all of the above incidents of damage. A letter from our lawyer, asking the builders to take responsibility for the damages and cover the repairs, has not been answered.

They offered to have a worker come into our property to clean up when required, which we do not accept as we not do want strangers on our property and cleaning up does not constitute repairing the damages done.

We have been doing our own ongoing cleaning constantly for the duration of the building. It is the damages and repairs they have not admitted to and need to deal with.