Builders next door have come through my wall what do I do next?

(56 Posts)
Ledkr Mon 13-May-13 20:01:43

Ok so the next attached to me semi is having extensive building work done.
Lots of banging but no probs so far apart from knocking a few bricks off a tiny wall in the garden which they said they'd fix.
So today I'm at work and dh has our two yr old here. Lots of very loud banging then he noticed a piece of plaster has been knocked off our downstairs loo about three inches long but lots and lots if brick dust everywhere and a small hole left that you can see through to outside to unfinished extension.
Dh goes round at 2 on his way to work and tells them.
They apologise and patronise him saying don't worry we will sort it.
I get in at five and babysitter says nobody has been and they've gone home leaving a stuffed piece of material in the hole.
I am beyond furious. They haven't even had the decency to come and see the damage.
I've been to see the owner who is very nice and said he'd speak to them tomorrow and is mortified.
My worry us that if this is happening what about the rest if the house. It's all I've got and I worked so hard to buy my ex out.
I'm worried they don't know what they are doing and don't seem very bothered how it affects me.
I don't think the work should continue until its been checked to be safe for my house.
My dd uses her potty in the loo and would have been showered with brick dust and is also asthmatic.
Who can I phone? Can I get hold of the building regs people? Will they come out?
I'm so worried what shall I do.
I wouldn't be so worried if they seemed more inclined to rectify it but their lack if concern makes me think they are dubious.

starfishmummy Mon 13-May-13 21:14:11

I agree, they should have done the party wall stuff: but even if they did, it doesn't mean they can damage things.

Iirc with party wall stuff, the person doing the work tells you and gives you a certain time to object. If you don't object it is assumed you have agreed.

Ledkr Mon 13-May-13 21:14:14

Thanks again

flow4 Mon 13-May-13 21:16:07

Ledkr, that's awful - really incompetent and unprofessional of them, and really stressful for you...
But it will be fixable, and probably quite easily too. smile Take a deep breath and don't let it upset you too much though getting cross and waving V signs at the neighbours behind the party wall is fine. Then follow Eleanor's advice in the morning.

Ledkr Mon 13-May-13 21:20:20

Thanks for not making me feel like I'm overreacting xx

EleanorFarjeon Mon 13-May-13 21:23:04

Starfish - sorry to correct you but if you are served with a notice and do nothing, a dispute is regarded as having arisen.

starfishmummy Mon 13-May-13 21:39:50

Obviously changed since we had to do it - but it was some time ago.

Ledkr Tue 14-May-13 09:00:32

Still not even been to see damage and happy working away next door. I'm so stressed just about to make some calls

Ambridge Tue 14-May-13 09:07:44

Something a bit like this happened to us. Next door started off doing a loft conversion which we were fine with (we'd done it ourselves, though before they moved in). Party wall agreements were sorted etc - all fine.

Then they started gutting the entire house - they hadn't told us about this bit, oddly enough. We were in a terrace so shared a wall. They moved out and we found ourselves living next door to a major building site with consequent noise, dust, blaring radios etc.

Their builders started demolishing all the chimney-breasts on their side and knocked through on one of our fireplaces. They did sort it but we were, like you, shocked and v v angry.

Get onto the neighbours as a matter of urgency. They will have to rectify this at their trouble & expense and you shouldn't have to be out of pocket at all. They need to demonstrate that they haven't caused any structural damage to your house.

Best of luck.

flow4 Tue 14-May-13 09:14:28

Deep breaths. Do you feel brave enough to knock on the door and say "Hello. You need to stop the work you're doing and come and fix the problem you created in my house, before you do anything else"..? Then if they refuse, you can say "I'm sorry you're not taking your responsibilities more seriously. I'll have to get an injunction served if you don't sort the problem by lunchtime"... Then walk away.

Oh I know, that would take enormous nerve! I'm not sure I could do it myself, but I can see it's probably the most straightforward thing to do...

Technically, your grievance is prob with your neighbours rather than the builders, I think...

Who are you calling?

Ledkr Tue 14-May-13 09:17:57

I'm brave enough but also too angry to be rational I've had to comer to work but am going to call council and my insurers

Chubfuddler Tue 14-May-13 09:19:04

Take photos.
Ring your household insurers - they may be able to handle any legal stuff for you if you have legal expenses insurance attached to the policy. On any event they will effect repairs if the builder won't (you can then claim from your neighbour for the costs).
And knock on the door as above

Chubfuddler Tue 14-May-13 09:28:11

You can do it. Practice what you will say - I find having a script in my head for difficult conversations helps. Be calm, concise, say your piece and walk away.

flow4 Tue 14-May-13 09:31:10

It's good you've realised. Too much anger will stop you being effective. Can you do something with it? Gym or swim at lunchtime?

I don't think the council are the right people, unless you're council tenants. They won't have any power here. Y

Thinking practically - and recognising it's easier said than done - you need to contact your neighbours and tell them to stop the work, sort the problem and arrange a party wall agreement. If you can't do that cos you're too angry, you need to get someone else to do it on your behalf. If they don't do it, immediately, you need to get an injunction to make them.

Maybe your insurance co will help. If not, you need a lawyer.

flow4 Tue 14-May-13 09:34:36

Speaking to your neighbours is probably harder, but definitely cheaper, than going to a solicitor! Have you got their number? It might be easier to phone than do it face-to-face...

you are not over reacting by any means.

bring out the big guns. this is disgusting.

i'd also stress to building control that you weren't told about any party wall work and now you have no idea whether the structure of your house is safe. also highlight the lackadaisical attitude of the builders.

the home owner probably isn't going to cause a stink because he won't want to piss the builder off too much half way through the project.

but this isn't on.

very unprofessional on all counts.

flow4 Wed 15-May-13 20:51:46

How are you getting on, Ledkr?

MousyMouse Wed 15-May-13 20:59:15

how are you doing?
house still standing?

agree with others, make lots of pictures and call your insurance.
keep everything you discuss with neighbours/builders in writing, even just emails ("as discussed earlier...")

Ledkr Wed 15-May-13 21:40:32

It's been a nightmare. Planning didn't want to know says its. Civil matter.
Ditto insurance. Dh has again spoken to the builders who assured him they will rectify the damage but nobody even the neighbour have even been. I'm so angry I couldn't sleep then dd was awake at 3.45 so we had a break today but tomorrow I'm going to see the neighbour about the party wall agreement and tell the builders to do the repair at once or I'm seeking legal advice.

Ledkr Wed 15-May-13 21:41:09

Oh yes and local counsellor who is head of planning is looking into it.

what about building control?

flow4 Wed 15-May-13 21:50:42

Very stressful for you Ledkr. sad
Look again at Eleanor's advice on p1. She does this kind of stuff for a living and knows what she's talking about.
Here's a link the the Party Wall Act guidance.

Ledkr Wed 15-May-13 22:09:22

Building control not interested I'm truly shocked. Will re read Elenors advice now ta x

kittycat68 Thu 16-May-13 09:42:26

you can get a free half hour with a solicitor! if they are at fault which so it seems here from your post you can recoup your legal fees! Also your house insurance often has legal cover too so ! You could also call the police for the damage too!! mind you you will probably fall out with your neighbours if you do this.

ClaudiaCutie Thu 16-May-13 10:23:33

Flow4 - so glad you posted that - as I knew nothing about such things and was reading Ledkr's tale with horror. We live in a semi (first time with a party wall) and I was entirely ignorant about such things.

I have read through the Party Wall Act guidance and there is no provision for dealing with people who don't adhere to it - astonishing.

Ledkr - now I've read the Act guide (with eyes like saucers) I see that your neighbour is responsible for sorting out the damage, not the builders per se. So it's no good you leaning on the builders - you have to lean on your neighbour and make damn sure they realise it's their problem to fix.

Ergo - the way the Guide reads, you can't instruct the builders to sort it, but you can insist your neighbour takes action. Now. At once. It might be worth printing out a copy of the Guide, and taking this to your neighbour and pointing out that not only have they breached the Act, they need to immediately organise repairs to the damage to your property, without delay. I would be seething at their casual attitude and suggesting that the builders should stop work until the damage to your property is resolved.

I would lean on your insurer too, if the neighbour doesn't fix the damage, the insurance company will have to pay for the repairs and then pursue your neighbour for costs, so the insurers should be being a lot more helpful. I'm sorry you are going through this: one's home is a sanctury and having this breached (literally) would be very, very upsetting.

olivertheoctopus Thu 16-May-13 10:27:04

Our builders did this to our neighbours on both sides (we are mid-terrace) when we were having our loft converted. It was a bit embarrassing.... We never went round and looked at the damage, just left it to the builders to deal with and they bricked up the holes, replastered and got decorators in to make good. We did serve party wall notices before the work started and it was also permitted development rather than planning permission.

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