Next door did work without permission

(59 Posts)
twixxy Mon 23-May-16 15:47:03

So we live in a terrace of six late Victorian houses. The house to our right (end of terrace) has been doing the place up after renting it out for the last ten years. They mentioned (when we ran into them in the supermarket) that they would be doing work but given we were shopping for groceries didn't give any specifics of what it entailed. Turns out work included a loft conversion plus knocking out the chimney breast in the master bedroom so they could fit full depth wardrobes across the whole wall rather than just in the alcoves.

Both these things affect our shared wall but they didn't get a party wall agreement and as we didn't know about either of these specific things until they were underway it was too late for us to do much at the time. As legally they should have come up with the paperwork two months before doing the work we asked very nicely if they could get a retrospective agreement and they basically told us to piss off. Imagine that it would be a nightmare to sell our house without the paperwork (scarred from all the hassles from our last sale even when we did have the bits of paper) so what can we do? The law says they should have done one thing but for us to legally enforce it will cost us a fortune if they won't play ball. Presumably the council were involved in making sure the work was done to standard (loft conversion is a big project right?) so shouldn't they have insisted on the paperwork? I thought specialist loft firms would make you do this to stop any hassle. Seems not. Help!

LIZS Mon 23-May-16 15:53:12

Have they got buildings regulations approval, you may be able to check online? Planning permission for additional windows?

titchy Mon 23-May-16 15:55:17

The council only give a building reg notice. They have nothing to do with party walls. Why would you need to show a prospective buyer paperwork? If you think the building work has damaged your property then you might have an issue, but as you haven't mentioned that I'm assuming your party walls look fine? So everything's ok.

whois Mon 23-May-16 15:55:28

Call the council planning team for advice. People are such dicks aren't they?

twixxy Mon 23-May-16 15:55:51

Not sure about the planning permission bit as didn't know they were doing it - but the windows in the loft (velux) were already there and they've not done a dormer so don't think that would be an issue

Building regs though - will look online. Does it have to go through the council or can other people do them (i.e. won't necessarily find the info online)

twixxy Mon 23-May-16 15:59:58

titchy - when we sold our last house the party wall agreement for neighbours' recent work was an essential - basically means if anything they have done screws up our property in future they need to sort it. Without it (this happened to a friend recently) there is no guarantee for any issues that come up on your side as a result of their work will be resolved and it can end up being a major hassle and/or very expensive. So any decent conveyancing solicitor will insist on it. So yes, not having the paperwork is potentially a problem for us.

whois - never a truer word sad

namechangedtoday15 Mon 23-May-16 16:07:42

But do you actually know work has been done to the party wall (i.e. its been cut into to secure a joist etc?) Simply doing a loft extension etc does not necessarily mean they needed to serve a party wall notice (and therefore have an agreement).

LIZS Mon 23-May-16 16:10:38

But surely if the chimney stack was on the adjoining wall it could potentially have an impact on op's side. They need careful removal and support. Building regs at council should have a record if any inspection and approval has been sought.

OurBlanche Mon 23-May-16 16:10:44

Knocking out a chimney breast would be a party wall issue, assuming the usual terrace building plan. It would bother me!

ILoveMyMonkey Mon 23-May-16 16:15:14

I don't know the ins and outs of party wall agreements but you could buy indemnity insurance, at a fraction of the cost of pursuing them in court, which would then cover any problems you may have in the future and indeed this would be enough to satisfy most buyers if you sell.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Mon 23-May-16 16:20:03

I don't see why you would have a problem when selling. How would a buyer or their solicitor know that the neighbour has knocked down their chimney breast?

I sold a house recently which the buyers solicitor reckoned work had been done without building regs or a party wall agreement. He wanted me as the seller to purchase an insurance thingy as I had no paperwork. I laughed and pointed out the house was so old the work probably predated building regs or party wall agreements. Never heard anymore about it and I never bought the insurance.

OurBlanche Mon 23-May-16 16:24:39

OP has explained that Simon giving a friend's experience as an example.

Removing/modifying chimney breasts can be very complicated. They have a nasty tendency to be load bearing and tied in across joining walls.

Panicmode1 Mon 23-May-16 16:36:58

We had work done and had a chimney breast removed. Although I said I thought we needed a PWA, the architect, the structural engineer and the project manager told me we didn't need one because we weren't drilling into or putting steels into their wall.

However, we did furnish next door with our building regs certificate, our structural engineer's calculations and any other paperwork that they asked for. Are you planning to sell in the near future? If so, I would try and ask your neighbour's nicely for the paperwork.

Chchchchangeabout Mon 23-May-16 16:40:50

I think you are right to want an agreement for selling your house and I think the onus in law will be on your neighbours to pay for and provide this. There's a professional body for party wall surveyors called Pyramus and Thisbe who should be able to help with what to do next, you can google for contact details/their website.

Chchchchangeabout Mon 23-May-16 16:54:21

I would also be pretty keen to get the relevant paperwork etc if it was party wall work, as I would wonder about the credentials of a building team who didn't highlight the need for it.

twixxy Mon 23-May-16 18:29:35

In answer to various questions. They confirmed they knocked out the chimney breast backing on to the one in our bedroom

This does require a party wall agreement

We are planning on selling. It's definitely an issue because we have to declare we know about the works as we have written confirmation (emails but after the event) and this requires us to produce a party wall agreement

Yes we can take out an indemnity at our cost and yes it's cheaper than pursuing the gits neighbours in court but it leaves a very bad taste in our mouths that they've ignored the law and regulations that are there for good reason, they've done what the hell they want causing potential damage to our property, they've behaved like total shits and we - the innocent ones in this - have to fork out £££ while they get away Scot free.

twixxy Mon 23-May-16 18:30:44

Yes good point Chchchchangeabout - we did make this point (very politely) and they just laughed

dollylucy Mon 23-May-16 18:52:00

I've just sold my terraced Victorian house.
No-one asked me if the neighbours had done any work.

I was asked if there was a party wall agreement for the work I'd had done.

The question is
Has any notice been received under the party wall act

I think you've got this wrong

chandalier Mon 23-May-16 19:22:11

Your neighbours have done this to save on the costs of using a party wall surveyor. The whole document procedure can be in the region of 2.5K.
Recently our neighbours tried to do this to us with their chimney breast removal but luckily we found out just before the work started. They refused to seek a surveyor so we instructed one ourselves and the bill went to them.
Our house was photographed inside and out to prove the condition for any cracks/subsidence ( we have a booklet of it to keep) and the calculations for load bearing was issued to them for their builders. The surveyor even went back to check the job was done correctly at the end.
Subsidence can happen any time after bad work is completed.
If I was in your situation I would contact a party wall surveyor and tell them what has happened and they will advise. They will be able to view your neighbours finished work to check it and all costs for this will still go to them grin

chandalier Mon 23-May-16 19:29:43

Your neighbours have done this to save on the costs of using a party wall surveyor. The whole document procedure can be in the region of 2.5K.
Recently our neighbours tried to do this to us with their chimney breast removal but luckily we found out just before the work started. They refused to seek a surveyor so we instructed one ourselves and the bill went to them.
Our house was photographed inside and out to prove the condition for any cracks/subsidence ( we have a booklet of it to keep) and the calculations for load bearing was issued to them for their builders. The surveyor even went back to check the job was done correctly at the end.
Subsidence can happen any time after bad work is completed.
If I was in your situation I would contact a party wall surveyor and tell them what has happened and they will advise. They will be able to view your neighbours finished work to check it and all costs for this will still go to them grin

chandalier Mon 23-May-16 19:31:25

oh dear, gone twice.

twixxy Mon 23-May-16 22:14:01

They say they won't pay a penny so not sure where that leaves us.

And the legal form says has any notice been received. The answer is sadly no but legally it should be yes

twixxy Mon 23-May-16 22:18:51

And we couldn't hide the fact of the work a) because there were dirty great band outside advertising loft conversions and b) we have written confirmation of the works so legally trying to hide that would be not a good idea

twixxy Mon 23-May-16 22:19:57

Van not band. A band would have been quite scary

AnneElliott Mon 23-May-16 22:33:57

Are you sure you're being asked for party wall due to selling the house?

We sold ours 3 years ago and the party wall wasn't an issue. It was the building regs sign off which was important to the buyer and their solicitors.

From my understanding once the work has finished you have no recourse to the law re the party wall. The only stick the law gives you is a potential injunction to stop works ( and paying for any damage) and therefore if the work has finished and there's no damage, then I'm not sure what remedy you could possibly get?

If you do ask for advice, make sure you get someone reputable. DH had a client where the party wall guy had convictions for fraud and had been struck off from RICS but was still advertising himself as a party wall surveyer.

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