Party Wall Problems
Party wall problems should be tackled as soon as possible with the help of a Chartered Building Surveyor such as ourselves. If you are in the midst of a party wall dispute or are concerned about a potential future problem - do get in touch with us today.
Damage to your party wall
If damage occurs to your property during the progress of party wall work and your neighbour (referred to as "the building owner") has followed all the correct legal procedures, then "the building owner" is legally required to 'make good' your wall at their expense.
The correct legal procedures include serving notice, appointing a surveyor, carrying out a schedule of condition, and establishing a party wall agreement.
These steps are usually followed in the following order
- Serving you a party wall notice
- Appointing an independent surveyor (or you may appoint your own if you would prefer)
- Completing a Schedule of Condition Report of your property
- Establishing a Party Wall Agreement (aka Party Wall Award)
Your appointed surveyor(s) should handle this difficult situation by checking the original Schedule of Condition Report to confirm whether or not the damage is new and has been caused by a result of the building owner's party wall work or not.
If the damage is indeed new, then your neighbour is legally obliged to provide reparations help to you.
Damp due to party wall work
The Party Wall Act stipulates that notice should be served if your neighbour decides to insert a damp proof membrane.
If they simply re-plastered using an impermeable material then unfortunately they did not have to serve notice. Such work can unfortunately reduce the surface area where moisture can escape from by half, to your wall.
These situations can be difficult and if you decide to take them to court to pursue a claim for damages then ensure that you have a schedule of condition.
It's a fact that chemical damp proofing is mis-sold now and then, as it undermines the natural ability of a wall to allow moisture to evaporate and escape, trapping it and worsening issues in the long-term.
Rather than taking the issue to a court you may want to consider discussing it in detail with your neighbour, finding out exactly what work took place, when, and what the exact diagnoses was.
It may actually benefit both parties to remove the work entirely.
Underpinning foundations under a party wall
Basement excavations and underpinning are high-risk and as such the chance of associated damages to a Party Wall can't be underestimated.
During the lifetime of an 18-month basement extension, foundations may be liable to crack, move and subside in various ways. Shrinkage, settlement and underpinning work may all be contributing factors to the change in condition of building foundations.
It is the job of a Surveyor to determine which of cracks (and how much of it) is a direct result of the nearby foundation work, and therefore how liable the "Building Owner" is to make good the adjoining wall.
If you have been notified of underpinning or other foundation-related work (such as basement conversions/extensions) in an adjoining property and you would appreciate some professional advice, please call or email us today.