My neighbour has started work on a single storey extension without telling me. What should I do?
If your neighbour has started work on a building project, that you think may affect your property, you may need our services. Before starting work on a property, they should have asked themselves these questions:
Are my excavations within 3m or 6m of my neighbours’ property?
Will the work I am doing affect my neighbours’ property and/or the party wall or walls on the boundaries?
Will my builders need access to my neighbours’ property to build my wall on the boundary?
Will we need access generally?
If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes', then your neighbour must serve you a party wall notice and reach an agreement with you.
What is a Party Wall Award?
A Party Wall Award records building works that are to take place on a shared boundary, a party wall or excavations within certain distances. Its aim is to prevent any disputes both before and during building works. It also confirms the exact nature of the works with neighbour's.
What is a shared boundary?
A shared boundary, also known as a party wall, is a wall that stands on the land of two or more owners. This can be part of a building or structure, such as a garden wall. It can also be a wall that joins the property of one landowner that is used by others.
Other areas that are part of a shared boundary are works or alterations to:
a shared floor or ceiling with your neighbour
any excavation within six meters of a connecting property
repairing shared boundary wall or sewers, spouts, troughs or drains
When should I have received a party wall notice from my neighbour?
A notice is issued at least two months before starting any work. This is known a Party Wall Notice. It should outline the details of the building works, which may affect your party wall or boundary. If the work involves undertaking an excavation, the notice period drops to one month. If the work requires planning permission, permission is not required to serve the Party Wall Notice. Your neighbour then has a year within which to start their building project.
What to do if your neighbour is unaware of the Party Wall etc Act 1996
If you approach your neighbour once work has started, and they were unaware that they had to issue a Party Wall Notice, they should stop works immediately. They should then hire the services of a Party Wall Surveyor to draw up and issue you with a Party Wall Notice.
What to do if your neighbour has knowingly ignored the Party Wall etc. Act 1996
If your neighbour has knowingly not issued a Party Wall Notice, and continues with his building work, you may need to seek an injunction to get them to stop. An injunction can be sought if:
there has been a failure to serve a Party Wall Notice
trespassing onto your land has occurred
there has been damage done to your property
the works has disrupted the enjoyment of your property
Before seeking an injunction, it is important that you seek advice from a qualified and experienced Party Wall Surveyor. Antino and Associates have a wide range of contacts, throughout the UK and they know barristers and solicitors that specialise in this particular area of law. Issuing an injunction is often the last course of action that people take. It can be a costly, time consuming process that can create bad feelings between neighbours.
If your neighbour does issue you with a Party Wall Notice, you will have fourteen days to respond. You can now either take on the services of your neighbours' Party Wall Surveyor or hire one yourself. There will be no conflict of interest as it is the duty of all Surveyors to act with impartiality. They need to provide objective advice, based on the facts, for every client. Whomever you appoint to work on your behalf, the cost of the hire will fall to your neighbour.
In need of further advice? Do you want to be clear about the legal remits of the work taking place? Then get in touch with a member of our staff on 01245 490 019. Our experienced Party Wall Surveyors deal with all kinds of boundary issues and injunctions. They will confidently advise you of all stages of the process, according to your individual case. Whilst our office is in Chelmsford we have clients across Essex, London and the UK.