Does new measurement outweigh old fence as boundary line?

Does new measurement outweigh old fence as boundary line?

Postby Dandelion » Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:41 pm

Hello, I'm returning to ask Garden Law's advice again as this forum gave me a lot of help regaining access to a right of way that our neighbours had blocked: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=18103&p (I hope you're well, Andrew54, Sudynim and Gazelle.)

We're now building an extension and, because our house and garden are very narrow, the extension wall is meant to be right on the boundary. We hired party-wall surveyors and they drew up a party-wall award. But now that work has started I can see that the boundary has been drawn well within the line of our fence. The fence along the length of the extension has been removed to make way for the building, but I can see from the remaining panels that the wall is about four inches nearer our house. (That sounds like very little, but makes a difference in our very narrow space.)

I can see the logic in where the party-wall surveyors made the new boundary. Ours is a typical Victorian house, rectangular with a thinner rectangle at the back for the kitchen. The space beside the kitchen is, I think, called the side return. There's a 3ft-wide passage between the front (wider) part of our house and the neighbours', so the surveyors took a line from the centre of that, leaving us a space 18inches wider than our side return.

Maybe that's where the boundary should always have been. But it wasn't! The fence was nearer the neighbours' house, and as their house and garden are much larger than ours I suppose they didn't notice: nor did I.

The fence was put up by the previous owner of our house 30 years ago, following the line of the fence she was replacing. I thought that made it the legitimate boundary line? Or is that a myth?

My worry now is, will we have to put up a new fence four inches nearer our house? We have a long, narrow garden and I'd hate to lose a slice off it all the way down. The fence needs replacing, but it has solid concrete fence supports and I'd thought we could just put in new panels and posts along the same line.
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Re: Does new measurement outweigh old fence as boundary line

Postby ukmicky » Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:57 pm

A Party wall award CAN NOT be used to change the position of a boundary and a party wall surveyor has no legal authority to do so when drawing up the award.

The surveyor whilst drawing up the award should be using the exiting boundary features for any measurements. If the surveyor looked at your boundary and thought hmmm ,that frence is in the wrong place and should be 6 inches further over this way. . He would need to forget what he thought and draw up the award with the boundary where it was when he walked on site.

If he has made an error ,get him back ASAP
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Re: Does new measurement outweigh old fence as boundary line

Postby Dandelion » Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:14 am

ukmicky wrote:A Party wall award CAN NOT be used to change the position of a boundary and a party wall surveyor has no legal authority to do so when drawing up the award.

The surveyor whilst drawing up the award should be using the exiting boundary features for any measurements. If the surveyor looked at your boundary and thought hmmm ,that frence is in the wrong place and should be 6 inches further over this way. . He would need to forget what he thought and draw up the award with the boundary where it was when he walked on site.

If he has made an error ,get him back ASAP


Thanks very much for this quick response, UKMicky. I'm chasing it up today. I'll report back when I've made progress. I'm already breathing a bit easier, thanks to your reassurance!
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Re: Does new measurement outweigh old fence as boundary line

Postby Dandelion » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:21 pm

nothingtodowithme wrote:@Dandelion,

Is the side return extension being built within your property boundary or astride the boundary?


It's all within our garden, but was meant to come right up to the boundary, forming a boundary wall by exactly replacing the fence.
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Re: Does new measurement outweigh old fence as boundary line

Postby Dandelion » Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:15 pm

Update: I've discovered it wasn't the party-wall surveyor who made the mistake. He just took the measurements from the architectural drawings, and that's where the mistake was made, right back at the beginning. We can't now change the measurements that were in the drawings approved by the planning department and building control. I've realised now that I should have done my own measurements too.

Still, when we come to replace the fence, at least we won't have to give the neighbours a slice of our garden, as I feared! So it was worth asking this question. Thanks, UKMicKy and NTDWM for your concern.
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Re: Does new measurement outweigh old fence as boundary line

Postby arborlad » Tue Aug 05, 2014 4:40 pm

Dandelion wrote:Update: I've discovered it wasn't the party-wall surveyor who made the mistake. He just took the measurements from the architectural drawings,



Did the architect actually measure your land, if not he was remiss, likewise the party wall surveyor, especially when the build was intended to be to the boundary.



Dandelion wrote:Still, when we come to replace the fence, at least we won't have to give the neighbours a slice of our garden, as I feared! .



Whilst the above might be true, it does mean you will have an amount of land that is only useful to the neighbour.
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Re: Does new measurement outweigh old fence as boundary line

Postby Dandelion » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:39 pm

arborlad wrote:
Dandelion wrote:Update: I've discovered it wasn't the party-wall surveyor who made the mistake. He just took the measurements from the architectural drawings,



Did the architect actually measure your land, if not he was remiss, likewise the party wall surveyor, especially when the build was intended to be to the boundary.



Dandelion wrote:Still, when we come to replace the fence, at least we won't have to give the neighbours a slice of our garden, as I feared! .



Whilst the above might be true, it does mean you will have an amount of land that is only useful to the neighbour.


Yes, I was surprised that the party-wall surveyor hadn't checked or measured the boundary: I actually thought he had done that when he came to my house, but it was quite a long time back so I couldn't swear to it. I'd told him we needed to get everything absolutely watertight because of the neighbours' long history of hostility. And I had no chance to ask about his findings (or those of the other party-wall surveyor, representing the neighbours, whose bill I also had to pay) or discuss anything -- just got the party-wall award in the post.

A brick wall looks like a boundary, so I will put up a fence on the other side of our extension wall to mark the real boundary - just a few inches away, but at least that should also prevent the neighbours drilling into our wall. The whole length of the garden fence needs renewing, so we'll put the new one exactly on the line of the old one. That way we've only lost the few inches off our extension. not as bad as I'd feared.

Thanks for everyone's advice on this.
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Re: Does new measurement outweigh old fence as boundary line

Postby arborlad » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:51 pm

How advanced is the build, are the footings dug and poured yet?
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Re: Does new measurement outweigh old fence as boundary line

Postby Dandelion » Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:21 pm

arborlad wrote:How advanced is the build, are the footings dug and poured yet?


Yes, unfortunately too late to change anything now. The builders started two weeks ago and the mistake only struck me when I saw the gap between the brick wall they were starting to build and the fence. But it's a very small space, and at least ensures that the neighbours can't quibble about the boundary.
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