Concreter to pay $660,000 in damages over shoddy work
A NORTHERN Rivers concreter has been ordered to pay more than $660,000 in damages over the construction of a series of defective concrete slabs.
Concreter Dean Flocchini was sued by Hogarth Range dairy farmers Gregory and Joanne Cryer over a breach of contract for Mr Flocchini to concrete the base of a new milking shed.
The Cryers had bought the property in April 2014 with the intention of building the new facility so they could double the farm's herd and milking output to 150 cows a day.
They engaged Mr Flocchini to build three concrete slabs worth $46,610 as part of the job.
The work commenced in October 2014 and was purportedly completed the following month.
But a series of workmanship problems beset the project which ultimately prompted the Cryers to launch legal proceedings in July 2016.
An excavator was contracted by the defendant to dig the pit for the concrete slab, but accidentally dug the pit too far to the north, causing the slab to protrude out on to the road where the local dairy tanker drove to collect the milk.
Problems with the quality of the concrete were also highlighted in written evidence given by building expert David Oake.
Forty percent of the concrete used in the base failed to comply with the stipulated hardness of 32 megapascals (MPa), drastically reducing its potential lifespan.
The drainage fall of the slab was wrong, with a "simple bucket test" showing surface water draining into the pit instead of around the perimeter was detailed by the owners' plan.
The actual drain was supposed to be 800mm wide but was only half that.
The main slab in the dairy shed was also required to be 155mm thick throughout but in one place was only 22mm thick, breaching the relevant Australian Standard.
The work was so shoddy that Mr Oake recommended complete demolition and construction of brand new slabs.
In his judgement on June 2, District Court Judge Garry Neilson not only awarded damages to the Cryers of the demolition and replacement of the slab - costed at about $114,000 - but also the loss of income associated with the farmers being unable to run the expanded dairy for two years.
These included some $197,000 in loss of potential dairy profits, some $39,000 in "forced cattle sales", and some $151,000 due to the loss of production of excess calves which would have ordinarily been sold to the meatworks.
Judge Neilson allowed a further $156,000 in additional labour required by the farmers to use the old, less efficient dairy shed to milk their cows for two years.
He also ordered the defendant to pay the plaintiff's legal costs.