03. 1990 – Roots getting under

One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever.


1. A large crack in the sidewall
2. Roots getting under
3. Cracked from the party wall

1. A large crack in the sidewall

Mr & Mrs Voukelatos commission Civil Engineer Phillip Johnston who reports that the front wall poses a threat to public safety and that there are many cracks in the walls, including a large crack in the sidewall facing the park. 

06.09.90 Johnston to Mr & Mrs Voukelatos *DD1-2, 151-2

“The walls of the building were inspected on Wednesday 5th September 1990, at the request of the builder, Mr D of ‘Atsheston Construction’. The builder was concerned about the effect of the proposed work on the adjoining property, No. 41. Nos. 39 and 41 are owned separately, but together comprise one building, with common wall from the centre of the building.

There are many cracks in the walls of no 39, including a large crack in the south wall facing the park. Two well-established poplar trees in the park and close to the building may have caused some of the cracking. Other cracks may be due to other factors, e.g. differential foundation movement.

The front wall of the building has cracked and tilted to the extent that it poses a threat to the safety of people on the footpath or entering the shops. Above the first floor level the wall was cracked away from the party wall. The front wall has cracked as shown below. Small pieces of brick and/or mortar have fallen from the cracks. The cause of the tilting is not known. If steel beams are used to carry the upper wall over the shop fronts, rusting and swelling of the beams is a possible factor.

Steps should be taken immediately to prevent material falling from the wall to the footpath, and the wall either demolished or restrained by tie rods along the sidewalls and party wall. This advice should be passed on to the Owner of No 41.

If the wall is demolished and a replacement wall erected, the wall should be brick-veneer, as it will not be possible to obtain a satisfactory bond between the new front wall and the existing sidewalls and party wall.

Temporary bracing will be required to the side wall during the work, and they must be permanently tied to the timber frame of the front wall, for lateral support.”

2. Roots getting under

Mr Voukelatos sends a letter to Leichhardt Council together with Mr Johnston’s report and he raises his concern that a crack that has developed on the sidewall might be due to the tree roots getting under the foundations and moving the wall. 

27.09.90 Mr Voukelatos to Leichhardt Council *DE 1, 153

“I am the owner of the abovementioned property and as you will be aware the property adjoins the Dan Minogue Reserve. On the boundary between my property and the Reserve, Council has planted a number of Popular trees. These trees have grown over the years and have in the past caused various types of damage to my property. You will recall the damage to my sewer caused by the roots of the Poplar trees and also the damage to the paling fence by the Poplar tree, which fell during a storm.

I believe the presence of these trees will continue to cause further damage to my property. I attach for your file a copy of an Engineer’s Report dated 6 September 1990, which states in one part that a crack that has developed on the southern wall of the building may be due to the tree roots getting under the foundations and moving the wall. This is very serious since the damage would require significant cost to rectify. Further during the autumn months the Popular tress drops numerous leaves on my building’s roof. This results in blocked guttering/down pipes and this in turn has caused water to flow back into the ceilings. Finally, there is a possibility that further damage to the sewer may result in the future unless the trees are removed.

I understand Council intends to landscape the Dan Minogue Park in the near future and I submit to you that you should consider moving these Poplar trees and replacing them with other species planted further back from the boundary and also with tree root systems which are not shallow. An inspection will confirm the damage I have mentioned above and also the significant damage the trees roots have done to the footpath running along the northern edge of the park.

I would be please to have your comments on the above”

3. Cracked from the party wall

06.10.90 Johnston to Mr & Mrs Voukelatos *DF 1-2,154-5

Existing Wall, No 41.The site was inspected on Friday 21st September 1990, to advise on restraining the existing front wall of No 41. The front parapet and wall of No 39 had than been demolished down to just above the first floor ceiling level. The existing timber roof and ceiling frame was inspected, and also the first floor front room of No 41. The following points were decided:

Demolish of the front wall of No 39 was to include the thickened section at the party wall, as it had cracked from the party wall.”