Development with no drainage causes neighbour's home to flood

A frustrated family forced to camp out in their living room for seven weeks blames a neighbour’s housing development for termites eating into their bedrooms.

When the Brashers moved into their once-tranquil oasis in the Yarra Ranges north east of Melbourne eight years ago their backyard overlooked grazing lamas and sheep.

But since a neighbour began building on the steeply sloping block behind them in late 2019, the Brashers have been caught in a quagmire.

The neighbouring development has no drainage and when it rains a torrent flows through the Brashers’ property, with water pooling for days in the yard and seeping under the home. 

Termites that have taken up residence in their three-bedroom house have been activated by the moisture, destroying beams and floorboards at the back of the property.

A frustrated family forced to camp out in their lounge room for seven weeks blames a neighbour's housing development for termites eating into their bedrooms. The development has no drainage and when it rains a torrent flows through the neighbouring property

A frustrated family forced to camp out in their lounge room for seven weeks blames a neighbour's housing development for termites eating into their bedrooms. The development has no drainage and when it rains a torrent flows through the neighbouring property

A frustrated family forced to camp out in their lounge room for seven weeks blames a neighbour’s housing development for termites eating into their bedrooms. The development has no drainage and when it rains a torrent flows through the neighbouring property

An estimated $22,000 damage has been done to the property, which the Brashers say is at risk of landslips from the neighbouring development. Mould has taken hold in one of two bathrooms, and their back fence has collapsed under the weight of soil

An estimated $22,000 damage has been done to the property, which the Brashers say is at risk of landslips from the neighbouring development. Mould has taken hold in one of two bathrooms, and their back fence has collapsed under the weight of soil

An estimated $22,000 damage has been done to the property, which the Brashers say is at risk of landslips from the neighbouring development.

Mould has taken hold in one of two bathrooms, and their back fence has collapsed under the weight of soil

A quarter of the boards in the Brashers’ main bedroom have been damaged by termites which have chewed their way half way up the back wall. 

An estimated $22,000 damage has been done to the property, which they say is at risk of landslips from the neighbouring development.

Mould has taken hold in one of two bathrooms, and their back fence has collapsed under the weight of soil.

Honi Brasher and her husband Clayton have confronted the owner-builder, who did not install drainage before commencing earth works but says the problem is not all his fault. 

The Brashers’ insurer has refused to pay for the damage because their policy does not cover ground water run-off and the local council has not offered a solution. 

An AAMI insurance report states the cause of the damage as: ‘Water running off the developing block behind customer’s home causing excessive water flowing to the home.’

Termites that have taken up residence in the Brasher family's three-bedroom house have been activated by the moisture, destroying beams and floorboards at the back of the house

Termites that have taken up residence in the Brasher family's three-bedroom house have been activated by the moisture, destroying beams and floorboards at the back of the house

Termites that have taken up residence in the Brasher family’s three-bedroom house have been activated by the moisture, destroying beams and floorboards at the back of the house

‘The assessor confirmed the damage did not occur from a single insured event,’ AAMI wrote in a March 18 letter explaining its refusal to pay. 

‘But rather from water seeping over time from the neighbouring property, which has no drainage.’

A Flick pest control report from February found active subterranean termites in the timber flooring of two bedrooms had caused ‘extreme damage’.

It also found moderate damage by wood decay fungi in the sub-floor, which was exposed to ‘high moisture levels due to construction from behind the property.’ 

Only the back of the house, which is exposed to the water, is affected and if the water is not stopped the timber-eating insects will keep returning. 

Mrs Brasher is a disability advocate and her husband Clayton a salesman in the waste industry.

They are both 51 and have three adult children living at home. 

Their split-level weatherboard home is on a battle-axe block at the end of a no-through road.  Mrs Brasher describes it as ‘a tree house nestled amongst the hills.’

Only the back of the house, which is exposed to the water, is affected and if the water is not stopped the termites insects will keep returning. The backdoor is pictured after rain

Only the back of the house, which is exposed to the water, is affected and if the water is not stopped the termites insects will keep returning. The backdoor is pictured after rain

Only the back of the house, which is exposed to the water, is affected and if the water is not stopped the termites insects will keep returning.

The backdoor is pictured after rain

Their split-level weatherboard home is on a battle-axe block at the end of a no-through road. Mrs Brasher describes it as 'a tree house nestled amongst the hills.' The townhouse being built behind her home is pictured

Their split-level weatherboard home is on a battle-axe block at the end of a no-through road. Mrs Brasher describes it as 'a tree house nestled amongst the hills.' The townhouse being built behind her home is pictured

Their split-level weatherboard home is on a battle-axe block at the end of a no-through road.

Mrs Brasher describes it as ‘a tree house nestled amongst the hills.’ The townhouse being built behind her home is pictured

Behind the Brashers is a large block owned by the developer. His three-storey house sits at the top of the hill.

Three two-and-a-half storey townhouses are being built below the existing residence.

The owner-builder is constructing the lowest house which is nearest the Brashers’ home.

‘We were always told it couldn’t be built on,’ Mrs Brasher said. 

‘We did try to stop it at the council level.

We didn’t want it to be built. 

‘We’ve just got to suck that up but when it starts affecting us big-time then it’s a problem. It’s just gone on and on and on.’

Clearing the block began in December 2019 and the Brashers soon learnt no water drainage had been constructed. 

‘We were under the understanding that the drainage would be done first to protect us,’ Mrs Brasher said. 

‘But there’s nothing.

Nothing’s been done.’

When it rains the water comes under the Brashers’ back fence and settles under their home. 

‘If it rains just normally that’s fine,’ Mrs Brasher said. 

‘But if we get a heavy downpour it’s like a cascading waterfall.

It’s just water under the house non-stop.

‘The water was so heavy the last time flooding occurred we couldn’t dry up the back of the house.’ 

Honi Brasher and her husband Clayton bought the charming house in Victoria's Yarra Ranges eight years ago

Honi Brasher and her husband Clayton bought the charming house in Victoria's Yarra Ranges eight years ago

Honi Brasher and her husband Clayton bought the charming house in Victoria’s Yarra Ranges eight years ago

When it rains the water comes under the Brashers' back fence and settles under their home. 'If it rains just normally that's fine,' Mrs Brasher said. 'But if we get a heavy downpour it's like a cascading waterfall. It's just water under the house non-stop'

When it rains the water comes under the Brashers' back fence and settles under their home. 'If it rains just normally that's fine,' Mrs Brasher said. 'But if we get a heavy downpour it's like a cascading waterfall. It's just water under the house non-stop'

When it rains the water comes under the Brashers’ back fence and settles under their home.

‘If it rains just normally that’s fine,’ Mrs Brasher said. ‘But if we get a heavy downpour it’s like a cascading waterfall. It’s just water under the house non-stop’

The Brashers' insurer has refused to pay for the damage because their policy does not cover ground water run-off and the local council has not offered a solution. Pictured is water in the Brashers' backyard after rain

The Brashers' insurer has refused to pay for the damage because their policy does not cover ground water run-off and the local council has not offered a solution. Pictured is water in the Brashers' backyard after rain

The Brashers’ insurer has refused to pay for the damage because their policy does not cover ground water run-off and the local council has not offered a solution. Pictured is water in the Brashers’ backyard after rain

The owner-builder told Daily Mail Australia the water run-off from his development had been unavoidable and he was trying to get the job finished as soon as possible. 

‘You’re at the bottom of a block, and if there’s heavy rain then of course there’s going to be water,’ he said. 

‘That’s the reality of physics I suppose. 

‘That’s obviously the situation. I can’t do magic and make it disappear.’

Mrs Brasher said tradesmen were not prepared to offer warranties on remedial work while the water issue existed and winter would likely make the problem worse.

‘I don’t think we’re being terrible neighbours,’ Mrs Brasher said. 

‘But everything’s unsafe. While we’re getting all this water we can’t fix our home.

‘I get frustrated and I get angry when I look at it and I don’t know what to do any more.’

The owner-builder has said he will replace the fence eventually, at his cost, marking a new boundary which (rightfully) gives him more land. 

The owner-builder has said he will replace the fence eventually, at his cost, marking a new boundary which (rightfully) gives him more land

The owner-builder has said he will replace the fence eventually, at his cost, marking a new boundary which (rightfully) gives him more land

The owner-builder has said he will replace the fence eventually, at his cost, marking a new boundary which (rightfully) gives him more land

A Flick pest control report from February found active subterranean termites in the timber flooring of two bedrooms had caused 'extreme damage'

A Flick pest control report from February found active subterranean termites in the timber flooring of two bedrooms had caused 'extreme damage'

A Flick pest control report from February found active subterranean termites in the timber flooring of two bedrooms had caused ‘extreme damage’

When it rains the water comes under the Brashers' back fence (pictured) and settles under their home. 'If it rains just normally that's fine,' Mrs Brasher said. 'But if we get a heavy downpour it's like a cascading waterfall

When it rains the water comes under the Brashers' back fence (pictured) and settles under their home. 'If it rains just normally that's fine,' Mrs Brasher said. 'But if we get a heavy downpour it's like a cascading waterfall

When it rains the water comes under the Brashers’ back fence (pictured) and settles under their home.

‘If it rains just normally that’s fine,’ Mrs Brasher said. ‘But if we get a heavy downpour it’s like a cascading waterfall

Communication between the Brashers and the owner-builder has been more polite than might be expected but the family has had enough. 

‘[The owner-builder] does not believe it’s his fault,’ Mrs Brasher said. 

‘He always just comes across like “I’m just trying to do the best I can” and we’re just expected to soak it up.’

Damage to the Brashers’ main bedroom and that of their son forced the trio into the lounge room for seven weeks. 

‘At least we’re back in our bedroom,’ Mrs Brasher said. 

‘That’s a start.’ 

The owner-builder did not concede the termites in the Brashers’ home were made active by water flowing from his site. 

‘You don’t get termites for that reason,’ he told Daily Mail Australia. 

‘You get termites because you’re in an area that’s termite-prone and you haven’t done the protection that you should be doing.’ 

'I don't think we're being terrible neighbours,' Mrs Brasher said. 'But everything's unsafe. While we're getting all this water we can't fix our home

'I don't think we're being terrible neighbours,' Mrs Brasher said. 'But everything's unsafe. While we're getting all this water we can't fix our home

‘I don’t think we’re being terrible neighbours,’ Mrs Brasher said.

‘But everything’s unsafe. While we’re getting all this water we can’t fix our home

An AAMI insurance report states the cause of the damage as: 'Water running off the developing block behind customer's home causing excessive water flowing to the home'

An AAMI insurance report states the cause of the damage as: 'Water running off the developing block behind customer's home causing excessive water flowing to the home'

An AAMI insurance report states the cause of the damage as: ‘Water running off the developing block behind customer’s home causing excessive water flowing to the home’

The Brashers felt they had been given the run-around.

AAMI suggested they contact the Victorian Building Authority, piratebay which directed them to the Building Appeals Board.

Archicentre Australia, which conducts building assessments, advised the Brashers they should have been issued with a protection works notice before work started.

The local Yarra Ranges Council which approved the owner-builder’s development did not respond to an inquiry before publication and his surveyor did not return a phone call.  

The owner-builder has told the Brashers his townhouse’s footings had finally been poured and the driveway would soon be concreted. 

‘Hopefully this will really help,’ he wrote. 

‘We’re both in the same boat,’ he told Daily Mail Australia. 

‘We both want it taken care of ASAP and like I say I’m doing my best to get it done.’ 

The owner-builder has told the Brashers his townhouse's footings had finally been poured and the driveway would soon be concreted. 'Hopefully this will really help,' he wrote

The owner-builder has told the Brashers his townhouse's footings had finally been poured and the driveway would soon be concreted. 'Hopefully this will really help,' he wrote

The owner-builder has told the Brashers his townhouse’s footings had finally been poured and the driveway would soon be concreted.

‘Hopefully this will really help,’ he wrote

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