Fence repair boundary dispute

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Mr Wilson
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Fence repair boundary dispute

Post by Mr Wilson »

Bear with me War and Peace ( this is a shortened version)

Shared fence between property at rear. Both parties owned houses since new approximately 15 years original fence. There is a slope at the rear of our garden which continues into neighbour's garden. Neighbours has leveled out the slope on their side by at least a foot using boards and a plastic membrane to hold their ground but still against the fence . Part of the fence including posts has bowed into our garden over the years. We spoke about it and said we would get it sorted when the time came to repair /replace the fence.
Earlier this year the fence blew over in the wind . Hardly surprising 15 year old wooden posts rotted at ground level have done well to get that far. Had a quote to replace 7 posts from a family friend £250 cash job. He came to look at the job. Straight away saw fence bowed , looked from our side and the neighbours and advised them that their land was pushing against the fence and advised a retaining edge if done in sleepers total job would be about £1400. He said he would just do the job of replacing posts if that was all that was wanted.
Neighbours got a company who had done work on our estate around to quote. Looked at it in the dark from neighbours side only said it didn't need any retaining 7 posts £550.
Discussed it with neighbour via messenger expressing my concerns about the movement over the fence off the boundary and the retaining of her garden. I preferred the cheaper quote , they wanted the dearer . They sent me a message from their preferred guy who said they couldn't compete with the price as they were a company with insurance and guarantee working to British standards. They would use longer posts and gravel boards to alleviate my concerns. I asked the 1st guy who quoted us how much with longer posts and he said £350
I worked out the cost of materials using the longer posts and extra bags of postcrete which was approximately £200 . I did think our guy was a bit cheap for the amount of labour involved.
Neighbour got another quote from a joiner who said at least £700.
We agreed with the neighbours on the £550 no gravel boards if he thought not needed if costing extra and reiterated that the boundary line was to be re-established.
The work was carried out on a Saturday and Sunday when we were away for a few days . We live with my wife's parents who were at home on the 2nd day. My neighbour chased me for the invoice to be paid on the Tuesday. As soon as I received their email later in the day the invoice was paid.
On our return we were faced with a disappointment. The posts had been set to where they were before the wind took the fence over. They had not put them in line with the boundary as I had asked repeatedly. I set out a string line and the fence bowed into our garden by a good 4- 6 inches.
I emailed the contractor with photos to express our disappointment and asked why the fence had not been put up straight. I also informed our neighbour that I had contacted him. The neighbour replied " it looks ok on our side" A week passed and the email forwarded twice more and the contractor replied. " They were not happy that I doubted their workmanship.They put the posts in the original holes where the neighbour told them and none of the fences on the estate are straight"
I replied that I did not question their workmanship but to why the fence was not put straight .I said that this is now becoming a boundary issue and will be contacting our neighbour .
The neighbour refuted any issues and said that I would need to give details of fence measurement and position. I sent a copy of the boundary plan from our deeds. I said a land surveyor will be costly and could get messy, we had been good neighbours and didn't want to spoil this but the boundary is important and we need to get it sorted. I said we may get further advice and so should they. They contacted me a couple of hours later to say they would contact the contractor.
The neighbour came around with the contractor this evening. I told him what was wrong. The neighbour denied that there was an issue and said the fence had always been like that. The contractor set up a string line and agreed the fence was bowed. He said it would cost to have him dig the neighbours garden back and reset the posts. I replied that it would not be costing me anything.
They continued to argue the boundary. I showed a straight boundary on the land registry. Contractor said that meant nothing , wanted to see the measurements on the deeds. I showed him the deeds . I said there are no measurements but the boundary line is straight not curved. He studied the deeds for a long while now in the dark while neighbour argued and got more agitated. Contractor exclaimed in glee. " Look , look Mr String line the boundary is show curved on the plan" I took the deeds and pointed out that the curve is the bottom of the slope which tapers in to the corner of our garden, the boundary was the straight line above it. They continued to argue for a further 10 minutes to which I replied no further. I showed them out of the garden and said goodbye and nice to meet you to the contractor. He blanked me.
I will contact a land surveyor for further advice. I do not wish to argue in court or fall out with the neighbour ( I fear that ship may have sailed) as these things get messy and expensive to achieve what over a few square feet of land.
Am I wrong

Photos including tidy garden before fence faliure and new posts

https://www.amazon.co.uk/photos/share/M ... 9xHcW06iR2
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Re: Fence repair boundary dispute

Post by Collaborate »

I cannot see the photos as you are sharing them via Amazon photos, and it seems that I have to view them by logging in to my Amazon account. For security reasons I don’t want to do this. You should upload the photos to an open link.

A cautionary tale. You should have insisted on being present when the job was done (your neighbour had given you enough warning that he wasn’t bothered by his land spilling on to yours) and you shouldn’t have settled the invoice before you inspected the work.

Is 4 inches all that important?

I suppose aesthetically it might not look right, but I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. Simply get an acknowledgment from your neighbour that the fence is in the wrong place and this will be corrected when it is eventually replaced.

You should also be clear with your neighbour that it is their responsibility to retain their land, so any additional costs incurred in supporting their land should be borne by them, and any support should lie on their side of the boundary.
mr sheen
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Re: Fence repair boundary dispute

Post by mr sheen »

Pity you initiated this pointless dispute before coming here.

You have now annoyed the neighbour who appears to have been reasonable in discussing and agreeing a joint fence repair. You have also annoyed a contractor who literally carried out the repair using the boundary determined by the developers 15 years ago and accepted by you 15 years ago and for every year of this 15 years without dispute.

Having purchased from new, you both bought what you were given by the developer and accepted the positions of the boundaries without dispute for 15 years. The fence therefore became the accepted boundary so it was correct to place it in the same position on repair. General boundaries are shown on plans, so unless you have detailed measurements on the plans to the inch then the fence is the boundary.

A repaired fence, in the same position it has been for 15 years, is the outcome. The price seems like a mega cheap bargain to me so I would have accepted a bit of tidying up myself afterwards. Retaining kick boards or other more expensive repair could have been used for considerably more money but you both agreed on a low budget option.

If you wish to try to dispute this…good luck with that, hope you have very deep pockets and nerves of steel….personally I would accept the situation, try to recover relations with the parties involved, learn from the experience and get on with life.
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Re: Fence repair boundary dispute

Post by CherryBlack »

Yikes. So many missed opportunities for this to not have become a problem. And I fear, should you be reckless enough to pursue this legally, that these chances could count against you.

Can I clarify - you say this is a 'shared' fence. Do you mean it's noted in your deeds as being a 'shared' responsibility, so a split cost? So this only cost you £275? That's cheap, but I presume that's just for the posts only; they've reused the panels? That's no money at all, and the neighbour should have agreed to add some form of credible retaining feature to this, entirely at their own additional cost.

From what you describe, you made it clear when first discussing the flopping fence, that the bowing would also be addressed at the time of repair? You reiterated that the correct boundary line should be re-established when the fence was then about to be repaired. I'm guessing you have zero evidence of either conversation? No witnesses? If not, oh dear.

"We agreed with the neighbours on the £550 no gravel boards if he thought not needed if costing extra and reiterated that the boundary line was to be re-established." You took the neighbour's 'judgement' on no retaining boards being required? Clearly an error, and - may I say - a pretty obvious one.

Your photo showing the presumably correct straight line does indicate a reasonably significant deviation by this curved fence, one that should have been blindingly easy to correct. For the fencer to have simply taken one party's word for where the old posts were located is careless. It's not even so much the 'curve' itself - which is gentle - but that the fence doesn't seem to connect to the correct place at its far end, unless, perhaps, it bows back quite severely at that end point? It's hard to tell. But what I do notice is that your neighbour has some constructions in their garden towards that far end - dark-coloured panels/pallets of some kind - which would likely have to be moved a small amount to allow the 'correct' straight fence line? If so, I can see why this fencer went the 'easy' route and avoided them. Very possibly they acted on the neighbour's instructions - which they shouldn't have done.

Q - Your other neighbours, whose fences presumably continue from where yours joins at each end, do their fernces appear straight? It would be very unusual for the original fence to have been intended as being gently curved - almost certainly it was straight, or meant to have been.

Q - Can you tell whether where this fence joins at the far end is the same as its original position?

What to do about it? The sensible approach is as Collaborate says; Tell the neighbour that you can 'live' with this incorrect fence line for the time being, provided they put in writing that they agree where the true, straight, boundary line does lie, and that the fence will be reinstated to this correct position when it next needs replacing. Do this with a smile, and move on. Put the offer in writing, in a manner that you can evidence; Text, email, letter, WhatsApp, or a recorded conversation. It might be persuasive if you casually suggest that you 'may' need to talk with your solicitor if they don't agree to this. Don't get drawn into an argument - "It's ok on our side!", "It's not that far off!", "The deeds don't show it as a straight line!", "You should have said summat before...". Just, "I made it clear, more than once, that the correct boundary line should be reinstated when the fence was repaired. You had the work done when I was away. The repaired fence is in no way following the correct, straight, line - is it? Look - IS IT?" Repeat ad nauseam.

Or, risk going down a dark hole of a 'dispute'. I would only consider this nuclear option if (a) you have Legal Protection included in your house insurance, (b) your LP actually agrees you have a case and will take it on, (c) you can strongly evidence your comments to your neighbour that you were always aware of the fence being off-line, and that you repeatedly said this would need to be corrected. If you have (c), then I think you'd have a very strong case, so could pursue this with good certainty. If you don't, then who the hell knows.

(Some of the work under the fence appears to consist of part-gravel boards sticking up at weird angles, and bricks - is that correct?! In which case, the responsibility for them to properly retain their increased ground level still remains.)
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Re: Fence repair boundary dispute

Post by CherryBlack »

MR WILSON - please delete one of your duplicated threads.

wtf said (on the other thread):

If I may be harsh and start off with the bits that weren't quite right:

Being away for the work and settling payment before inspection, but I'm sure you're kicking yourself over that already.

Turning down mates rates. The other contractor isn't necessarily above a market rate.

Using the title.plan or deed plan. Though I wouldn't dismiss them completely given you're both original owners. It's where the fence originally was that matters. The plans are helpful only if they did reflect the original fence was straight.

The big one is that the wrong job was done, that is not sorting the retention issue.

However, I think you're right to be unhappy. The original fence probably was straight - is the continuation of the fence line straight behind the other neighbours?

Had you, perhaps from the deed wording (or its absence) agreed the fence was a shared responsibility and to go halves on cost?

The neighbour, by changing the height of land, is responsible for retaining it. Plastic sheet does not seem like it will help at all. The work and cost should not fall on you.

The fence contractor might not be at fault, if he did the job he was asked to do. It does look shoddy I'll agree. But if the failing wooden soil retention is bulging into where the posts should go, he could not have put the posts in the right place. He wasn't paid to sort the retention issue. How do you know the posts are not longer?

You still have the family friend who can do work at a good price. Consider him for future work even on this same fence. Speak to him about his views on possible remedial work.

You're right that it's better to discuss and agree on ways forward than go legal. The sort of figures mentioned already, are probably better for one side to pay the lot, than to instead pay for surveys or solicitors.
Mr Wilson
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Re: Fence repair boundary dispute

Post by Mr Wilson »

I couldn't work out how to delete the duplicate ?
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Re: Fence repair boundary dispute

Post by CherryBlack »

Sorry - I don't actually think you can :-)

I'll put a reply on the other thread to direct folk here.
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Re: Fence repair boundary dispute

Post by MacadamB53 »

hi Mr Wilson,

Am I wrong?

yes, you are wrong

the OS do not plot lines on their maps anywhere near as precisely as you seem to imagine.

it’s not too late to buy a “sorry” card and a bottle of plonk or similar as a peace offering.

kind regards, Mac
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Re: Fence repair boundary dispute

Post by wtc »

@CherryBlack -thanks for copying my post across. For some reason the forum only showed me the duplicate.

@Mr Wilson - there are a few questions in mine and others posts that may help to answer. The general balance of replies so far might appear against you, even though the root of the problem seems to have been the neighbour raising his height without support causing his side to bulge out.

What has happened has happened, so it's a case of what to do now to resolve the dispute.
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