Liability if my construction work has damaged neighbouring property

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16 September 2020
I’m in a situation where I have recently had some building work done by a licensed and insured tradie and my neighbour claims it has made his property unsafe. If this is the case I am concerned I could be liable.

I’ve recently built a new house in an established area, and the survey report showed the neighbouring property had a concrete path and fence somewhat over the boundary. I gave my neighbour a letter, copy and paste of the South Australia Form 2 of the fences act, stating I would remove the old fence and replace it with a new one on the boundary. I made it clear any concrete over the boundary would be cut to accommodate the new fence, and I would pay for it in full. My neighbour wrote back asking to meet before any work took place, however this never happened as he was unreachable by phone and has on one occasion caused issues for my builders resulting in police being called. I did not subsequently write to him. My neighbour never saw the quote. My neighbour did not write to me to tell me he objected to the fence, only he wanted to know more before work took place.

My quote from the fencer said there would be a small gap between the fence and concrete, enough to install the new fence. This is what they have done. I have not seen the gap on the neighbours side but they emailed me telling me they did what was necessary to install a new fence.

My neighbour has told me, and written to me, but won’t show me, the cut concrete is dangerous and I’ll be liable when he hurts himself on it, and that the work has devalued his home. Is either of these correct, or, given I used an insured and licensed supplier, considering the above circumstances am I not liable? I never instructed them to cause any damage, but I did accept their quote and that there would be a small gap between the fence and pathway.