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WoodDD

Neighbour Ignores Party Wall Request

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Dear All,

 

My neighbour plans to do a side extension which is only 90cm away from my side wall. I wrote to them in Nov. 2018, however they did not reply to me. Today I noticed they had started to take down some solid fences to prepare for the building work. What should I do now for their ignorance? Should I start to take formal process and take them to court? The are not easily approachable (this is why I write to them instead of speaking to them in person).

 

(the letter is attached)

 

Any advice would be appreciated!

 

Thank you.

 

-----------

 

Dear xxx

 

We hope you are well.

 

The County Council has informed us that you have planning permission granted to extend your property. I have been advised to check if The Party Wall Act is applicable to your building work. I have no objection of your building work whatsoever, of course. However, I believe that we may need to have a party wall agreement in place according to The Party Wall Act 1996 Section 6 (3 / 6m). Please bear with me if this is already under your consideration.

 

It’d be great if you could let me know the following at your earliest convenience:

 

 

  • When would you like to start your building work
  • The depth of the foundation of your extension
  • When you could provide a party wall notice

 

We are happy to discuss appointing an independent party wall surveyor to make sure everything is fine. Surveyor Mr xxx has been recommended to us:

 

....

....

 

For your information, I have enclosed a copy of the relevant section of the Act.

 

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

With best wishes

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From experience this will proceed as follow:

1. He will build his extension and ignore anything you say or do.

Nobody will be able to stop them, nobody. Unless they do something dangerous.

2. They finish and all is fine (No action needed)

Or

2.1 They finish and your wall is damaged.

2.2 They fix it or even rebuild at their cost

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it is unlikely to affect any of your existing structures as the foundations depth isnt going to be greater than yours. now if this is in London other rules come into play and some of these date back to the aftermath of the great fire of 1666 so beware that it you interfere with their work you may be paying them.

are the fences yours? If they require access to their land via your property then you need an agreement similar to a party wall agreement but it isnt the same. If you cant talk to the neighbours then you will have to get on to the planningf dept and see if they think there is a breach and

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it is unlikely to affect any of your existing structures as the foundations depth isnt going to be greater than yours. now if this is in London other rules come into play and some of these date back to the aftermath of the great fire of 1666 so beware that it you interfere with their work you may be paying them.

are the fences yours? If they require access to their land via your property then you need an agreement similar to a party wall agreement but it isnt the same. If you cant talk to the neighbours then you will have to get on to the planningf dept and see if they think there is a breach and

 

I have done a back extension a couple of years before and am pretty sure that his foundation will be deeper than mine. He did come around to have a brief chat with me after I have sent him a chased-up letter. Obviously he is reluctant to pay anything extra. I suggested him to call the recommended surveyor for advice. I emphasised I have no attention to interfere his building work but would like to avoid any potential future ugly dispute between neighbours when anything goes wrong during his building process. He expressed to take some pictures ourselves. Is this enough? He promised to have a chat on the next day and failed to turn up. This is why I may have to stick a recognised surveyor (From my and other neighbour's experience they are that kind of people who agree things in words but do not deliver in action)

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Did you make a party wall agreement when you built your extension?

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Did you make a party wall agreement when you built your extension?

 

For my case formal agreement does not apply. However I did have an informal agreement with my neighbour who lives on the other side (on the right, who is closer to my extension).

 

To share the situation here, we have very good neighbourhood here -- We do neighbourhood BBQ, pub trips etc. However this neighbour (on the left) never engage in those activities. They seems to enjoy their own noisy party more as far as I can tell. His fence was brown down years ago to my side. He has no desire to fix them although I offer my help. He never cut his garden plants btw ;)

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Why do you believe that they are going to dig deeper than your foundations?

You can view the plans.

 

Also they are 90cm on there property and not building ON the party line.

You must tell your neighbour if you want to:

•build on or at the boundary of your 2 properties

•work on an existing party wall or party structure

•dig below and near to the foundation level of their property

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My house is period Victorian house which does not foundation at all although it does some brick work under the soil. I find this out when I did my extension.

 

As far as I am advised his building work falls in 'The Party Wall Act 1996 Section 6 (3 / 6m)'.

 

I am not being difficult here but just to make sure no ugly dispute in the situation of something happening during the process.

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Who advised you.

You can view plans to see foundation depth.

If your property has "no" foundations then the other party cannot dig below them.

 

They prob took advice too and found that the extension does not require a party wall agreement.

Solution...

Make sure your bank account has tens of thousands in it as arguments of this nature will cost you lots in solicitors fees.

Not so much for the defendant if they have legal cover on household insurance.

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The surveyor recommended to me, who is also mentioned in the original letter.

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Then go hire a solicitor if you think your right.

A junior solicitor will cost around £100/hour. A more senior one around £200/hour.

 

From what you have said and from.me reading the rules on .gov website on party walls I cant see why you need a party wall agreement, unless your leaving bits of info out.

Edited by sgtbush

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Then go hire a solicitor if you think your right.

A junior solicitor will cost around £100/hour. A more senior one around £200/hour.

 

From what you have said and from.me reading the rules on .gov website on party walls I cant see why you need a party wall agreement, unless your leaving bits of info out.

 

Really? What about 'The Party Wall Act 1996 Section 6 (3 / 6m)'?

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Well that would mean that 99% of extensions/builds/permitted builds without planning permission would need a party wall agreement.... And they don't.

I put an extension up around 5 years ago, I needed PP but no party wall agreements with either side.

 

Their will be someone that will be able to explain why, in legislation, I didn't. I went on the advice of the surveyor, architect and local council planning dept.

 

Like I said , if you think your right, hire a solicitor and a surveyor and take legal action.

 

Ps if you look on the .gov website it says below foundation levels or near the party wall. I did enquire on the definition of "near" as I was 750mm on my side to party wall. PP dept said you dont need one

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From what you have said and from.me reading the rules on .gov website on party walls I cant see why you need a party wall agreement, unless your leaving bits of info out.

 

Some useful information:

It surprises many Building Owners that they must serve a notice on their neighbour even though the hole they plan to dig will be entirely on their own land. The reason of course is that excavating close to any structure carries a risk that the foundations to that structure will be compromised and movement will occur.

 

This type of work is covered by section 6 of the Act and can be divided in to two parts. Below I have given the relevant text from the act together with a sketch which I hope will clarify the description.

 

Section 6(1), where -

 

(a) a building owner proposes to excavate, or excavate for and erect a building or structure, within a distance of three metres measured horizontally from any part of a building or structure of an adjoining owner; and

 

(b) any part of the proposed excavation, building or structure will within those three metres extend to a lower level than the level of the bottom of the foundations of the building or structure of the adjoining owner.

 

3-Metre-Notice-copy.jpg

 

 

The above quoted from: http://www.mypropertyguide.co.uk/articles/display/10105/are-my-proposed-works-covered-by-the-party-wall-act.htm

 

As the OP has a Victorian era building which will most likely have very shallow foundations, a party wall agreement should be in place before any new foundations are dug. If the neighbour is refusing to enter into an agreement or appoint a party wall surveyor, then the OP will probably need to go to court and get an injunction to put a stop to the planned works.

 

OP: Do you have legal expenses cover with your household insurance ?

If so, contact them as it will save a lot in litigation costs if structural problems surface in your property at a later date.


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As i mentioned earlier, by the time the op starts proceedings to stop the work, the extension will be up already.

At that point if there's any damage the litigation will start.

Your neighbour is probably thinking: "He's built his own extension without asking me and now he wants me to pay a surveyor for his own benefit. Dream on!"

And he wouldn't be wrong if you ask me.

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As i mentioned earlier, by the time the op starts proceedings to stop the work, the extension will be up already.

At that point if there's any damage the litigation will start.

Your neighbour is probably thinking: "He's built his own extension without asking me and now he wants me to pay a surveyor for his own benefit. Dream on!"

And he wouldn't be wrong if you ask me.

 

When I have built my extension I sent letters and visited both neighbours for their concerns before I submitting my plan application. However they kept everything quiet. We only found out their plan by visiting the council website after receiving a letter from the council. We did not object their building plan whatsoever. They did not even reply to our request for a chat regarding the potential impact to my property of their building work. They have been living in this area for more than 20 years and their reputations in the neighbourhood makes me even more worried. This is why I want something with legal weight in place before anything ugly happening.

Edited by WoodDD

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Some useful information:

 

OP: Do you have legal expenses cover with your household insurance ?

If so, contact them as it will save a lot in litigation costs if structural problems surface in your property at a later date.

 

I do have legal cover with my home insurance. I called the legal helpline as advised and they confirmed I'll be covered if it's the approach I'll be taking. I really do not want to dispute with my neighbours if there is a way around it. At the end of the day if all fails I have no choice but to defend my property with legal action as the last resort.

 

Thank you!

Edited by WoodDD

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By charging him for a survey you're already starting a dispute.

When you built your extension he didn't bat an eyelid and now he sees your request like an excuse to get something free and cause trouble.

As said, the system is slow and authorities won't stop the work unless dangerous, so as long as he knows, you'll be taking actions in the event of any damage.

A pre survey is a waste of money if you ask me, unless there are evident cracks and structural damage (which would go down against you).

If you see how they do a party wall survey you'd be laughing, sometimes their visit lasts 2 minutes.

Anyhow, as you're covered by your insurance, go along with what the solicitor says, it's free!

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Id double check your legal cover on household insurance.

Its not for you issuing proceedings against someone. Its used when someone issues proceedings against you.

 

If it was the first way you wouldn't have no win no fee solicitors as we would all be going thru our household insurance.

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my home insurnace covers me when starting a legal action as long as I tell them before it kicks off. This doesnt mean that they will support any old crackpot litigation on my part but would cover me for a lot of things such as suing someone who ran me over whwere there is not only a good cause for action but a reasonable chance of success and the point is they decide on what they will take on. So do ask your insurer's legal people about this and if they agree with you let them do all of the running as they will have to stump up to pay for any damages should they decide that nothing needs doing and they were wrong.

 

What sort of soil and subsoil do you have where you live? in most places footings of about 12" are adequate for a single storey extension so the angle of friction for the soil wont cause in any movement as a result of a shallow trench being dug 90cm away. I would agree with you completely if they were digging down to say 1m. This is borne out by experience as my house didnt fall down when I built my porch and that had 18" footings due to being built on clay even though the regs say 8" footings

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What sort of soil and subsoil do you have where you live? in most places footings of about 12" are adequate for a single storey extension so the angle of friction for the soil wont cause in any movement as a result of a shallow trench being dug 90cm away. I would agree with you completely if they were digging down to say 1m. This is borne out by experience as my house didnt fall down when I built my porch and that had 18" footings due to being built on clay even though the regs say 8" footings

 

The soil is clay and the foundation of my neighbour extension will be 1m.

 

My neighbour just gave me his party wall notice. In the notice he has appointed an architect to dig a hole around my house to find out the depth of my foundation. As mentioned above I am pretty sure the foundation of his extension is much deeper than mine. However he'd like his architect to confirm that and take it from there.

 

Does this sound reasonable?

 

I'll keep you posted how I get on with this matter.

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So you won.

He's taking a professional to agree the work and sign for it.

If anything happens the architect insurance should cover you.

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My neighbour dug a trial hole to inspect my foundation at weekend and confirmed my claim. There is no obvious foundation for my house. He shew his work and promised to get his architect to take a look to get an update design of the foundation of his extension. Till today I have not got chance to speak to them as they do not answer door bell. However I can see the hole has not been back filled. I am worried the trial pit may affect the stability of my foundation especially in this rain season. The trial hole is 50cm wide BTW. Should I be worried and how I can force him to back fill the hole as soon as he could?

 

Thank you as always!

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Fundations won't fail for a 2 foot hole, not in a few days, so don't worry.

It would take a long time and a lot of rain to start deteriorating the fundations.

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you dig bigger holes to put in a fence post or washing line so dont fret over such things

  • Haha 1

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