Houses teeter above money pit
THE excavated Mt Waverley site that threatens two homes and has forced the evacuation of residents had no retaining walls in place — and now investigators want to know why.
Witnesses described the dramatic moment sections of the construction pit crumbled “like cake”.
“We heard a massive cracking thunder noise and ran outside and the whole wall had come down,” local shop worker Emily Cornell said.
Ten students living in two townhouses beside the construction site, on the corner of Huntingdale and Highbury roads, were moved to a motel after earth beneath the foundations of one property fell away, leaving a driveway and wall teetering over the pit. Another home is threatened.
The former petrol station site has been excavated up to 20m. The cutting runs to the brickwork of one neighbouring property, where a section of wall collapsed and a sewer burst on Wednesday.
Director Jim Nicolaou of the site contractors Action Master Builders said despite expert advice on the excavation work, things had not gone to plan.
“I’m guided by the experts, that’s what happens sometimes,” Mr Nicolaou said.
WorkSafe is investigating the collapse. “We are speaking with the site builder and engineers and the Monash City Council as a part of the investigation,” a spokesman said.
Building regulations require “protection work” to shore up earth works if stipulated by the building surveyor in the construction permit.
WorkSafe has ordered that all excavation work cease until it is deemed safe and the Victorian Building Authority is also investigating the incident.
Monash Mayor Paul Klisaris said he was unaware if the building permit for the site included the need for mandatory retention walls.
But a building industry source said such protection was standard for deep pits.
“Council approved a planning permit which sets the parameters around what the building will be, but does not deal with construction,” Mr Klisaris said.
“The building permit documentation included details of how the site should be excavated safely.”
A two-storey building containing a medical centre, dwellings and an underground carpark is planned for the site.