Building Work on Boundary

Building Work on Boundary

Postby Oggi » Tue Mar 15, 2005 6:44 pm

Older members may remember that I raised this topic in November, but it got lost in the disaster.
My worry was that my neighbour had got planning permission for a two storey extension which will have a blank wall 30cm from our joint boundary and 130cm from one wall of my house. I was concerned that the neighbour’s builders would want access to my land, and having raised it with my neighbour, sought advice in this forum on pre-emptive action. I received some good advice, including from Arena, who advised I consult a surveyor, while Qwerty advised making a business arrangement and charging £500 for use of my land.
In the end, I consulted a solicitor, who told me:
-if digging works are to take place within three metres of my house structure, the neighbour should serve me with a Party Wall Notice, describing these works, which I can negotiate about. If I disagree, the problem goes to an independent surveyor for arbitration and both sides must abide by his decision. (I now understand the detailed points Arena made on this subject)
- if work starts without a party wall notice or before it is agreed, I can apply for an Injunction to stop the work
- that if there is a need for access to my land, I should consider coming to a commercial arrangement with the neighbour (as previously recommended by Qwerty!), but that I would need a tight contract, as a loose one would be easily exploited by the builders.
My neighbour was away so I couldn’t discuss this with her, but before she came back, I received a letter from the architect. This was a week ago. This letter said work would begin on 29 March, acknowledged the letter I had written to my neighbour in November, and said the builder could build the extension ‘overhand’ without putting scaffolding on my land, but the finished appearance could not be guaranteed. He hoped that with my “agreement and cooperation to permit access and erect scaffold, we can ensure a consistent brick finish, adjacent to your boundary”. I have shown the letter to the solicitor, who says it is not a Party Wall Notice. He also advised me to ask for one by letter, so I have done this – the letter also tells the architect again that I do not want scaffolding on my land. My neighbour has returned, but when I mentioned my worries to her, she more or less said she was not interested in this sort of detail – that’s what she paid the architect for. Furthermore she is going away during the works!
Any comments from those more experienced than me, please.
Oggi
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Postby despair » Thu Mar 17, 2005 4:41 am

I agree you have not been served with a Party Wall Notice

Also the builder is right in saying you will not get a decent finish to the brickwork if they have to work overhand

I could show you a horrendous mess on a mere 3ft high wall that was built in that way by a friends nasty neighbour

IMHE Builders are a very messy lot in general and tend to give no thought to the mess or disturbance they create on neighbours when building this close

I believe you would be better to strike a deal with the Architect over money or a cast iron deal from the builders that they do some work for you FOR FREE in return for limited and well organised access to your land
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Postby Danny » Thu Mar 17, 2005 7:19 am

Oggi

I don't understand, if you are seeking advice / help from a solicitor, why are you writing letters / talking to your neighbours? does your solicitor know what fait accompli means!.

Have you seen the approved plans for your neighbours extention?

If the builders or anyone in connection with the building of your neighbours extention need to come onto your land and do so without your permission, thats Trespass, if the extention or any part of it cannot be built without coming onto your land, that is also Trespass, but in addition could affect your rights, value of your property, your title etc.

I would as a matter of urgency seek the advice of a surveyor and explain:
That neighbour is Planning on building a wall 30cm from the boundary.

That not known if the foundations for the new extention will go deeper than those of excisting property.

Advice needed on the possibility of Encroachment.

The possibilty of Trespass ocuring when building the extention.

That advice is needed about should I seek to agree that the new wall being built is built as a Party Wall.

That neighbour has served no Party wall notices

Ask for a free initial consoltation, belive that under Party Wall act surveyors fees may be paid for by neighbour.

If you agree with your neighbour the wall will be a Party Wall, that will enable you to biuld off it at a later date, should you so wish, it also ( I belive ) stops the possibilty of Trespass.

If you and your neighbour agree the wall to be built will be a Party Wall, you will have 2 choices.

1 ) You could agree to paying towards the cost of the wall now ( cost decided by surveyor)

2) You could pay your neighbour for using the wall should you wish to do so at a later date. Although the costs would then be higher as it is calculated a current values.

The above is for information only. I would as a matter of urgency, seek the advice of a surveyor in addition to a solicitor before contacting / talking to my neighbour further.
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Postby Franczola » Sat Mar 19, 2005 8:59 pm

I had the same problem as Oggi. My neighbour never served a party wall notice, and I encountered all the possible problems that go with it ie encroachment, mess, tresspass etc etc etc for Two years. I hired a surveyor to sort the problems, only then (when the building works were almost finished) was I made aware by my surveyour of the Party wall Act.
I am astonised that Party Wall notifications are not a legal process. My neighbour had no legal responsability to serve me one, and now that I have encountered all these problems, and paid for a surveyor myself I still have no comeback on my nieghbour. ( I have been advised that court action is the only way, and that is too costly and wont cover the costs that I have paid so what is the point of the act?)
My neighbour obviously envisaged all these problems, and chose to "forget" to serve a Party Wall notice on me, this way he wins on all counts. Party wall notices should be required by law before any works are carried out to prevent these things from happening.

Franc'
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Building Work on Boundary

Postby Oggi » Sun Mar 20, 2005 2:38 pm

Thanks to Despair, Danny and Franczola for your comments. I am unwilling to strike an agreement with the neighbour or her architect for the use of my land because the gap is so narrow and, as Despair warns, I fear the mess and damage the builders will cause.
I hope to avoid Franczola’s problems, and I am grateful to Arena (a previous member of this forum) for drawing my attention to the Party Wall Act – which to my surprise applies in this case, even though there is no common structure.
I understand Danny’s point about agreeing to the Extension Wall being a Party Wall, but I don’t like that either. The gap is too narrow to do anything very useful, and anyway contains the accesses to the joint sewer – I believe one should not build over these. What I would like is for the wall to be at least one metre from the boundary.
I am writing to the architects/talking to the neighbour on the advice of the solicitor.
Since my last posting, I have received another letter from the architects, enclosing an explanatory booklet of the Party Wall Act (very useful), the approved plans for the works and a statement that they do not think the Party Wall Act applies for, although they will be digging within three metres of my house wall, they will not be digging deeper than my foundations. Examination of their plans shows foundations at 900mm (and I presume they will have to dig a little deeper than that), whereas my house deeds’ plans show my foundations go down to 825mm with the ground level sloping down slightly away from my house.
I have replied to this with a further request for a Party Wall Notice, as this is the basis on which we can negotiate, warning the neighbour and her architect that if works starts without the Act being followed, I may have to apply for an Injunction to stop the work and for the costs of this to be charged to my neighbour.
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Re: Building Work on Boundary

Postby Maverick.uk » Sun Mar 20, 2005 4:24 pm

Oggi

From your information posted so far IMHO a party wall ntice is required to be served. It is quite clear if the excavation is within 3 metres (it is) and it goes deeper (it is, your plans say yours is 825mm their excavation is 900mm) by 75mm. I know its only small but nominally its deeper and therefore requires notice to be served.

Cheers

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Postby Franczola » Sun Mar 20, 2005 4:59 pm

Does a Part Wall Notification [i]have to be served? From what I have learnt so far from all my problems, I thought that there was no legal responsability to serve one.
[/i]
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Postby despair » Sun Mar 20, 2005 7:15 pm

If the neighbours building works will affect /be built over joint sewearage/drains then you need to get in the drains guy from your local council .............make a fuss ......get him in fast

You must be sure that they will not be compromised in any way at all

Check both sets of deeds there may be an easement which cant be breached

Check check and double check EVERYTHING
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Postby Maverick.uk » Sun Mar 20, 2005 9:13 pm

Franczola wrote:Does a Part Wall Notification have to be served? From what I have learnt so far from all my problems, I thought that there was no legal responsability to serve one.


There is a requirement to serve if certain conditions are met however the act contains no powers for failure to comply. You can however take out an injunction to stop work if one has not been served.

Regards

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Postby onthetiles » Tue Mar 22, 2005 4:30 pm

Oggi:

Not sure if this is any help, I had a possible problem reagarding drains when I wanted to put a stepped path in my garden.

I was advised that the Department of Environment ( Roads and Water Service) may need access to these at any time and there could be problems if they couldnt access them, as a result I had to lay stones and lightly cover the lids of the sewer/water pipes.

Check your deeds to see if there is such a thing as a SERVICE STRIP for your property, my deeds mentio nthat no building woorks can be under taken within 1.8 metres of the service strip, to allow government and councils access to blockages etc.

Maybe not exactly what you are looking for, but hey every bit helps.
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Postby Danny » Fri Mar 25, 2005 7:46 pm

Oggi

With respect I don't think you understand, the Party Wall act can be used by you to control how the developement is carried out, it could also be used by your neighbour against you, for not allowing a wall to be erected may lead to a possible legal action against you. You have to be seen to be acting resonably, Your idea of asking for the wall to be set back 1 metre from the boundary sounds OK, however, a recent case in the courts the judge decide that in order to allow for future maintainance and prevent further trespass the gap should be 2 metres.

As for the architect comment that the Party wall act does not apply, suggest you read the act and you will find it covers the erection of new walls built within a reasonale distance of the boundary.

Questions

What reason do you have for not agreeing the wall to be a Party Wall?

Why should your neighbour not be allowed to develope their land?

What reason's do you have from preventing them doing so?

How is the development detrimental to you or your property?

You should'nt just object for the sake of objecting ( and Im not suggesting you are ) but your argument about damage to your garden appears to me to be petty, and could be resolved amicably ( Sorry) The location of the drains are certainly an issue that needs to be investigated / resolved if the proposed extention prevents you accessing them comfortable.
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Building Work on Boundary

Postby Oggi » Tue Mar 29, 2005 5:26 pm

Again many thanks for all recent comments.
Since my last posting, I have exchanged further letters with my neighbour’s architect (with copies to her since she has moved out). The architects said they had consulted the local council “Building Control” who agreed with them that a Party Wall Notice was not required. I telephoned “Building Control” who confirmed this, explaining that our houses are built on rock and my neigbour’s proposed digging would not affect my foundations. They explained that the 3 metre rule part of the Act was designed for soft soil areas, and not used round here. They did however promise “to keep an eye on things” in their regular inspections. This took the wind out of my sails.
Another talk with the solicitor showed him taken aback too, but after discussion, I decided that the risk of applying for, but not getting, the injunction to stop work in the face of the Council’s opinion was too great in terms of cost and yet more unhappiness with the neighbour.
This showed me
-that the Party Wall Act is not all it seems to be (as Franczola noted)
-my solicitor is not as good as I had assumed!
-I wish I’d known about Building Control before.
To answer some of Danny’s other pertinent questions,
-I have not been invited to agree to the wall being a party one
-My objection to the neighbour’s development was that it was too close to the boundary, thus cutting out all my light (sky no longer visible from window) and setting up potential for further disputes in future
- I remain worried about builders making a mess in my garden – they have done so before, but I my neighbour’s predecessor and I settled that amicably
-The proposed works do not overlap the area above the drains, but I mentioned it to Building Control just to be sure.
Work is due to start tomorrow. I will report any points of interest.
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Postby Danny » Tue Mar 29, 2005 6:03 pm

You may now be happy to leave it there or, as you have now decided your solicitor is not as good as you first thought, you may want to seek further advice from another Solicitor or maybe a surveyor who deals with Party Wall issues.

You also might want to try and see if building control are willing to put in writing what they told you over the phone.

What ever you decide to do. I hope it all works out well for you.

Best of luck
Danny
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Building Work on Boundary

Postby Oggi » Fri Apr 15, 2005 2:50 pm

Developments since my last posting have become almost farcical, while digging next door has proceeded steadily. On 5 April, I received a letter from the architects asking “to assuage your fears, can we dig a trial hole next to your foundations?” I telephoned the Council Building Control and asked their opinion; this time I got a different person who said that I should have had a Party Wall Notice; when I asked her to write to me saying that, she said she couldn’t but would send me a Party Wall Act booklet (which she did, but I’ve got one already!). I also consulted a local surveyor, who came up, had a poke around and said “Don’t worry, it’s rock all around here. They are just trying to cover themselves in case of unforeseen problems. Be reasonable and agree to the trial hole.” This I did.
Four days later a director of the builders actually doing the work visited and said the architects had changed their mind, and the trial hole was not necessary. (This makes me wonder if they were just trying it on.) He also asked about the utility leads, which I had warned the neighbour about in a diagram last November. Since then, almost every second day, I have had builders and utility men visiting and asking me to help them find the neighbour’s supply leads. Until today, I have done my best to help. Then a Transco contractor arrived saying he was here to rearrange the neighbour’ gas supply and this would mean that at some day soon my supply would be cut off for some hours. He then asked if he could make an exploratory dig on my land to try to find the supply lead. At this point, my natural even calm failed! I refused, saying I required a formal explanation of what was going on from Transco.
I realise I am in a weak position but I continue to report in case my problems help anyone else.
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