Raising a party wall

Raising a party wall

Postby ams » Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:26 pm

I wish to raise the height of what I believe is a party fence wall, with the aim of improving my privacy. The wall was originally built by the neighbouring owner (prior to my arrival here). It is constructed from bare blocks with a row of decorative blocks around the top. He has matching walls around the other three sides of his garden. On each side he has placed the pillars on the outside face (i.e. my side).

I believe, from reading the Party Wall Act an elsewhere, that I have the right to raise the wall, provided that it does not exceed 2m tall, but it's not clear to me what the best way to go about it might be. It does not help that we are not on the best terms due to previous problems with antisocial behaviour from his tenants. I do not wish to make the situation any worse than it has to be.

If I were in his position I believe I would consider any modifications that change the aesthetics of the wall I built to be vandalism, legal or not. To that end, I have looked around for matching blocks, but not found any. It seems unlikely that we could remove the existing blocks, and replace them higher up, without damaging at least one. Clearly there's going to have to be some kind of compromise here.

So, the question are: are there any other rights or issues I should be aware of? Do you have any advice about best practices in cases such as this? How far can he go to (legally) resist, retaliate or generally make my life difficult over this?

Thanks very much.

Andrew
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby ams » Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:55 pm

I'm fairly certain it's a party fence wall, but I'm delaying talking to the neighbour until I know where I stand. It looks like a party wall to me. I've heard tell there was a boundary dispute when he removed the old hedges and erected the walls in the first place (possibly to his advantage, but I don't know the particulars).

Since that detail cannot be determined until I do speak with him, let's choose to assume that it is a party wall, for the purpose of these questions. If that turns out to be untrue then I'd imagine that I'm not permitted to touch it, and my plan would be to simply put up a wooden fence on my side of the boundary, but that is decidedly plan B (mostly for spousal approval reasons).
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby ams » Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:15 pm

OK, so if he doesn't give written notice, then I still have the "right", but what then? I see a lot of stuff about surveyors, and it looks like there's a route to deal with completely non-responsive neighbours, but what would you say were my chances of success? (As I said, I'd aim to accommodate his wishes as much as possible, but if he wants to be belligerent about it....?)
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby ams » Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:36 pm

Thanks. I'm just trying to explore "what if's", that's all.
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby span » Mon Jan 05, 2015 8:49 pm

ams wrote: wall was originally built by the neighbouring owner (prior to my arrival here). It is constructed from bare blocks with a row of decorative blocks around the top. He has matching walls around the other three sides of his garden. On each side he has placed the pillars on the outside face (i.e. my side).


Something not computing here - how can it be astride the boundary if the pillars are on your side? Are the pillars on your property and the wall astride the boundary? Or are the pillars astride the boundary and the wall on his property?

Photos/pics/plans/sketches/drawings of situation, pls.
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby ukmicky » Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:55 pm

nothingtodowithme wrote:
ams wrote:OK, so if he doesn't give written notice, then I still have the "right", but what then? I see a lot of stuff about surveyors, and it looks like there's a route to deal with completely non-responsive neighbours, but what would you say were my chances of success? (As I said, I'd aim to accommodate his wishes as much as possible, but if he wants to be belligerent about it....?)



Discuss your proposed intentions with your neighbour, IF this is a party fence wall any changes to the wall is a party decision which involves the consent of your neighbour.
If as you say this will be aesthetically pleasing to look at, I cannot wonder why he would not consent.


The above is incorrect

If it is a party fence wall you have the right to raise it to 2 meters under section (2) (2) (i ) of the act (higher if you gain planning approval or attach it to a building as part of an extension under permitted development. ) providing you issue your neighbour with a party structure notice.

All this can be done even if you neighbour disagrees with your plans . You don't need your neighbours approval ,it is a right under the act. A right which you can exercise provided you issue the correct notices.

Your problem is however working out what the status of the wall actually is. You don't want to send a party structure notice if its not a party fence wall.
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby ukmicky » Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:36 am

The Party wall Act gives individual certain rights to perform certain actions. I've copied from the Act the relevant parts.

Section 2
Repair etc. of party wall: rights of owner
(1)
This section applies where lands of different owners adjoin and at the line of junction the said lands are built on or a boundary wall, being a party fence wall or the external wall of a building, has been erected.
(2)
A building owner shall have the following rights
(l)

to raise a party fence wall, or to raise such a wall for use as a party wall, and to demolish a party fence wall and rebuild it as a party fence wall or as a party wall;
Last edited by ukmicky on Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:48 am

Hi ams,

here's some more from the PWA:

[i]3 Party structure notices.

(1)Before exercising any right conferred on him by section 2 a building owner shall serve on any adjoining owner a notice (in this Act referred to as a “party structure notice”) stating—
(a)the name and address of the building owner;
(b)the nature and particulars of the proposed work including, in cases where the building owner proposes to construct special foundations, plans, sections and details of construction of the special foundations together with reasonable particulars of the loads to be carried thereby; and
(c)the date on which the proposed work will begin.
(2)A party structure notice shall—
(a)be served at least two months before the date on which the proposed work will begin;
(b)cease to have effect if the work to which it relates—
(i)has not begun within the period of twelve months beginning with the day on which the notice is served; and
(ii)is not prosecuted with due diligence.
(3)Nothing in this section shall
(a)prevent a building owner from exercising with the consent in writing of the adjoining owners and of the adjoining occupiers any right conferred on him by section 2;

once the "party structure notice" has been served your neighbour can (but is not compelled to) respond within 14 days, otherwise a dispute will be deemed to have arisen.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby arborlad » Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:36 am

ams wrote: The wall was originally built by the neighbouring owner (prior to my arrival here). It is constructed from bare blocks with a row of decorative blocks around the top. He has matching walls around the other three sides of his garden. On each side he has placed the pillars on the outside face (i.e. my side).


Thanks very much.

Andrew



How does the wall line up with other boundary features like a gable end or garage, that you do know the ownership of?
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby ams » Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:42 am

The wall lines up with what I would think was the boundary, but there's an extension there, so it's not completely clear. As i said, I'll find out whether my neighbour thinks it's on the boundary when i speak to him. These questions are to help me understand what happens if it is a party fence wall, as I'm pretty sure I know what happens if it's not.

My reading of the Act says that I have the right to ask to raise it, but the adjoining owner has the ability to dispute it (or just not co-operate), in which there is an expensive sounding process involving surveyors that might, or might not rule in my favour. It's not at all clear to me that I have the right to bully my way to my goal.

What I don't know is how that process works, in reality, and how successful it's likely to be?
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:53 pm

nothingtodowithme wrote:
ams wrote:The wall lines up with what I would think was the boundary, but there's an extension there, so it's not completely clear. As i said, I'll find out whether my neighbour thinks it's on the boundary when i speak to him. These questions are to help me understand what happens if it is a party fence wall, as I'm pretty sure I know what happens if it's not.

My reading of the Act says that I have the right to ask to raise it, but the adjoining owner has the ability to dispute it (or just not co-operate), in which there is an expensive sounding process involving surveyors that might, or might not rule in my favour. It's not at all clear to me that I have the right to bully my way to my goal.

What I don't know is how that process works, in reality, and how successful it's likely to be?



Back on topic, @ams I would advise you discuss matters with your neighbour.

+1
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby ams » Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:00 pm

Is it so hard to explore the "what if"? I'm being deliberately hypothetical.

Yes, of course I need to talk to the neighbour; that part was never in doubt. My questions are about preparing for that conversation. As I said, we're not on the best of terms, and little confidence goes a long way.

Anyway, thanks all. :)
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby MacadamB53 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:29 pm

Hi ams,

My questions are about preparing for that conversation.

"Hi Jerry"
"Hi Tom, what you after?"
"Quick question Jerry. It's about the wall between our properties. I was wondering what your thoughts are on building it up a bit higher?"

don't know how we can answer for him...

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby ams » Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:11 pm

Sadly, I rather anticipate the conversation continuing like this:

"Sorry, no, I built that wall and I don't want it changed."
"Listen, we're not happy about your tenants invading our privacy."
"Tough. "

This is based on the previous trouble where he was completely unhelpful and probably still hates us for spoiling his peace, regardless that his tenants were making our lives miserable.

From here, I can either go with:

"Erm, OK, I'm not terribly happy with this you .. you .. nasty person you."

Or something more like:

"Well, according to the Party Wall Act 1996, I'll be ....."

I'm still working on the "....." part.

The coloured text in the quote contains the words "with the consent in writing", and therefore basically boils down to "a dispute will be deemed to have arisen".
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Re: Raising a party wall

Postby arborlad » Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:16 pm

ams wrote: I'll find out whether my neighbour thinks it's on the boundary when i speak to him.



On the boundary, is a term frequently used on this forum, but it is not precise or definitive enough. Abut or astride are better terms for the purpose, if a boundary feature abuts a known boundary line then nothing can be in closer proximity than the boundary feature to the boundary, astride, is when half a feature sits on one land and half on another and the boundary will lie in the centre of the structure.



The wall lines up with what I would think was the boundary, but there's an extension there, so it's not completely clear.



What is it about the extension that is making things unclear, is it yours or your neighbours?
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