Party Wall surveyor David Vizard MFPWS describes a typical Party Wall problem. "I had a telephone enquiry this afternoon, a nice lady called Maureen, living in a terraced house in Harrow. It would be fair to say she was distressed. Upset. Annoyed. And, I believe, confused. Read on ....
"I had a telephone enquiry this afternoon, a nice lady called Maureen, living in a terraced house in Harrow. It would be fair to say she was distressed. Upset. Annoyed. And, I believe, confused.
Her distress was due to the fact that her neighbour, Bob, has undertaken works to his house, which have caused damage to her house. These works include excavations for a rear extension, within 3 metres of her house. And works to the party wall - removal of chimney breasts. These works have the potential to cause damage to an adjoining owner’s property, as indeed they have on this occasion.
“I am surprised” said Maureen “that there is nothing in place to protect people from having their property damaged by neighbours carrying out building works.”
Actually, there is.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996, was created exactly for that reason.
Unfortunately for Maureen, she didn’t know about the Party Wall Act, even though she had been served with notices of the works under the Act a few months ago. She consented to the works, because she likes Bob and she didn’t mind him building his extension.
What she didn’t know, was that the Party Wall Act could have protected her house, by specifying the manner in which Bob should have carried out the works.
But Maureen didn’t know, and when you don’t know, you don’t know.
The fact you are reading this means that you do know that the Party Wall Act can protect your house from damage, or your mum’s house, or your auntie’s house. To find out how, follow this link: Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors | Professional Advice - Party Wall Matters (fpws.org.uk)
As for Maureen, is it too late? Actually no, we can still help to get her house repaired, and it won’t cost her any money. Because she had been served notice under the Act, and in spite of the fact the she consented to the works at the time, the Act has been triggered. Now that damage has occurred, Bob is liable for repairs under common law. If he doesn’t agree to pay for repairs, then he and Maureen are considered to be in dispute, and the Act requires that they must appoint a Party Wall surveyor to deal with the dispute – this can be an Agreed Surveyor, appointed by both parties, or alternatively, both parties can choose to appoint their own surveyor.
The Party Wall Surveyor/s will then decide on the cause of the damage, and if Bob is to blame, he will have to carry out repairs, or pay compensation to cover the cost of repairs, including the reasonable costs of the Party Wall surveyor/s.
Sorry Bob. Perhaps you should have been a little less enthusiastic with the sledge hammer.
If you want to know how to protect your house from Bob, then you should contact us.
If you are Bob, and want to avoid getting a big bill for damages to Maureen’s house, then you should contact us too.