party wall agreement: if neighbour ignores it totally..?

(20 Posts)
Elibean Thu 18-Feb-10 20:04:16

We're planning a kitchen extension under Permitted Development (as per recent thread) and our fairly elderly neighbours on both sides are anxious/upset/cross about it.

One of them has signed Party Wall agreement (having understood what it is) and is using our Surveyor to assess their property, which is fine by us.

The other, who seems pretty confused about Party Wall Agreements (they are confusing!) and is holding out hope that the council will refuse our Cert. of Perm. Development (extremely unlikely, but who knows) just won't engage with us about it. DH has been to see her countless times, our Party Wall Surveyor has written to her, but she doesn't want to hear it really....I just wondered, if she refuses to engage with whatever Surveyor ours has to choose on her behalf, what will happen next? Can she delay our building work indefinitely?

We really want to be as nice as possible about it all, and do understand how hard change can feel, but we're stuck in a freezing rental until the kitchen work has been done, so its a tad frustrating!

CMOTdibbler Thu 18-Feb-10 20:46:15

I asked DH (who has dealt with a quite a few party wall things), and the third surveyors opinion is final and binding. So once your surveyor has appointed one, and their report has been received, you'll be able to move forward.

Elibean Thu 18-Feb-10 20:52:33

Thanks, CMOT, that was v kind of you smile

Ours has already sent the 'you have 10 days to choose a surveyor or I'll appoint one for you' letter. I'm just wondering if she'll even respond/answer messages from the that surveyor when he/she contacts her.

CMOTdibbler Thu 18-Feb-10 21:05:34

DH says he'd have to go and get his property law book out to check the exact process, but he thinks that although if they won't engage at all it is a bit slower, but they can't block things by ignoring it.

The surveyor should be able to explain the whole process though

rebl Thu 18-Feb-10 21:13:52

Good luck with this. How annoying its holding you up by her just ignoring and frustrating. I'm guessing that ultimately she can't stop the work but I don't actually know.

When do you have to get the party wall agreement? We've applied for planning permission but architect hasn't said anything about getting party wall agreement sorted out.

foxinsocks Thu 18-Feb-10 21:18:13

it's a nightmare isn't it

our neighbour I KNOW is going to be a pita

we have just got our planning permission through for permitted development (loft and kitchen extension but we can't afford to do the kitchen now so will just do the loft!)

the one neighbour who will be difficult bought her house just after ours - then promptly went to Italy for 6 months and left her house to be renovated by cowboy builders. They dug holes in the garden for the foundations (after taking the fence down between our property and hers) and left them unprotected so that ds nearly fell in one. They were rude, shouted, swore and were totally horrendous. No sign of a party wall agreement at all. We didn't have her number and the builders refused to give it to us so we couldn't complain. They even built the wall in the garden about a foot into our garden and when we complained they told us to 'fuck off!'.

Anyway, now that we want to do something relatively minor, that hardly impacts on her side at all, she is up in arms.

Massive sympathies to you as I know how it feels. I am sure she is going to do everything in her power to delay us. At least we have planning permission.

rebl Fri 19-Feb-10 09:59:01

Found this last night, thought it might be of some use to you.
www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/partywall.

You can download the booklet and it does say what happens in the situation you are in. She can't stop you doing your work by ignoring you.

Elibean Fri 19-Feb-10 12:49:11

Wow, thanks so much!

Rebl, that sounds a total nightmare - especially the rude builders. I'm glad you have your permission through - that must be a relief.

Sounds as though we could be held up, but not indefinitely...I've just spoken to a good friend (who lives in the same area). She told me how her neighbour was furious, and quite unpleasant about it, 25 years ago when they built their (similar) extension. A year later, she built one too - and they became the best of friends. Her message? Hang in there, this too shall pass smile

Thought I'd pass it on!

Elibean Fri 19-Feb-10 12:51:30

Sorry, that bit was for Foxy....!

Rebl, our architect was utterly clueless about the Party Wall part - do ask a Party Wall Surveyor what you should be doing about that bit, its not worth risking going ahead without it, and often causes no problems. Its not to do with planning consent at all - just about your neighbours having a right to make sure your work doesn't affect their property, or, if it does, that you are responsible for putting it right (can protect you too, against unscrupulous claims later on!!)

Elibean Mon 22-Feb-10 16:33:53

Small update....

...we've been granted Permitted Development as of today: phew!

We've very politey let the detached couple know why we can't build our extension a foot lower (did honestly get opinions from architects), and assured them we'll do anything else we can to make it nicer for them (plants up the side, mirrors, whatever!) if we can.

The other side, the attached neighbour, is getting more and more confused and angsty, and has written a letter to us and to our party wall surveyor saying she's going to dissent (??) and go to our local MP surgery on Friday to try and appeal (??) and get us to build it 12 feet less wide, ie away from her property. She's furious with the Council for having Permitted Development (in which she has no say), and says that 'in law, general principles outweight individual legislation' and she's doing all she can to stop it confused

I've no idea whether our very nice local MP will pacify her, fob her off, put her straight, or take her seriously. Who should we talk to? Party wall surveyor/solicitor?!?

Or maybe we should turn up to MP's surgery too?!? grin kidding on that one.

Tinasan Tue 23-Feb-10 07:47:30

Hi Elibean,
I think I remember from other threads that you're in SW London - not exactly unusual to be doing a kitchen extension here is it? smile. We moved last year and have just finished doing a side return kitchen extension - party wall agreements were handled by the project manager mostly, and we ended up paying a few £ to the neighbours to attach our roof to the existing boundary wall (their kitchen was already extended). Apparently it's quite common to do this - perhaps it might help if you offered her some compensation? Although she does sound extremely confused about the whole issue. I imagine she will be turned away gently but firmly at the MP surgery, party wall agreements are as you have said not negotiable things, she absolutely cannot stop you going ahead, but can only make sure her building is properly protected in the process. Best of luck with it, I can imagine how you feel, it's stressful enough dealing with the building works, never mind the neighbours...

MaggieW Tue 23-Feb-10 10:06:01

We had a similar experience (in SW London) with a neighbour who dissented, but it didn't stop the extension going ahead, it just meant we had to appoint a third surveyor.

Frankly I wouldn't bother trying to appease neighbours by making concessions such as putting plants or whatever up. We did, to try to keep the peace at their request, and put London stock bricks on either side's facing wall (original recycled bricks) at greater expense and on one side they rendered over it and on the other painted over them!!! Our neighbour was onto the council on a weekly basis and the builders were VERY considerate towards her. They washed all her windows, and cleared out her (very untidy) garden, but that wasn't good enough. She moved on soon afterwards and the new neighbours built straight onto the party wall, with no fuss whatsoever. However, do make sure your third solicitor surveys her property with photo's so there's no aggro and accusations of your builders having caused damage to her property at a later stage. Regarding compensation, I believe it's only payable where existing party wall foundations exist that are being built onto, and the neighbour can ask you to pay a contribution, which is fair enough, but that doesn't apply in your case if you're the first to extend. HTH.

ajandjjmum Tue 23-Feb-10 10:18:47

Our elderly neighbour moved house shorted after we commenced work on our extension, because she thought it would be a monstrosity.

This is the same neighbour who signed a deal to have five houses built in her garden by a developer, should they have obtained planning permission. They didn't.

I did feel bad about her moving, but she was being very unreasonable.

Elibean Tue 23-Feb-10 13:31:18

You all make me feel much better, thank you smile

No, not rare at all in SW London to extend - I think this is the last little row of semis in our area that hasn't been extended at all: therein lies the monstrous nature of our actions!!

I don't think compensation is what she's after, I think she's just desperate to stop any changes happening out of her control. Which is understandable, but unreasonable, given life.

Tbh, my main problem with all of this is that I find it sooo hard to piss people off: its probably good for me, but ugh blush

Toots Tue 23-Feb-10 15:48:02

I feel your pain Elibean. Next door are in a total lather about our loft conversion (the other next door don't give a stuff. Signed PWA and are fine) But Lather man is suspicious of the builder, doesn't believe a thing he's told, thinks I havent' done my homework....

Horrible. Still.... Can't wait! But I know what you mean. I hate to feel like someone thinks I'm the baddie. And hate it when I have thoughts about someone that aren't entirely pleasant.

Elibean Tue 23-Feb-10 18:37:18

Yup, forces me to face up to my dark side grin

Sorry to hear you're having a hard time with the loft, Toots, lofts are usually easier to deal with...hope its sorted v soon.

BrigitBigKnickers Tue 23-Feb-10 19:08:18

If you have planning permission they cannot stop it. All the party wall survey does is protect them if your foundations cause damage to their property. The surveyor will also take extensive photos of your neighbours property so that any cracks or damage they ALREADY have can't later be blamed on your building work.

We had to have a party wall survey done as our neighbours foundations were not as deep as those for our new extension and we were building within 3 metres of their house.

The reason our neighbours wanted to have it done (apart from them being on the rather fussy side) was simply to protect them from the label of subsidance, should they ever have problems that could be attributed to our extension(which would have an impact on their resale value) Any such damage would be deemed negligence on the part of the builder.

However the report contained photos showing minute details of the state of their house. They had recently had a brick wall built in their garden which had a huge great crack in it. Without the photos they could have blamed that on us and we would have been none the wiser so I suppose it protects us too.

We used the same surveyor but still had to pay twice. The reports for us and our neighbours were almost identical. Talk about money for old rope.

Toots Tue 23-Feb-10 19:24:42

I am quite keen that there is a record of their cracks on file. As it were.

Elibean Tue 23-Feb-10 20:27:18

Me, too. Trouble is, at the moment one neighbour won't let any surveyor into her property....she still thinks she can get our building work stopped, or altered hmm

We went through the party wall process from the other side of things last year, when our neighbour announced he was building a basement days before we were due to exchange contracts - obviously, the sale would have fallen through without a party wall agreement to reassure the buyer! We all had different surveyors, it cost loads and we paid some of it as our neighbour was beside himself at the cost...so I suppose we're familiar with it all, just not familiar with what happens when someone refuses to engage with it!

Apparently, she now gets 10 days warning and then if she still won't choose a surveyor (or ours), the party wall process goes ahead without an inspection being possible. Our surveyor will just have to take photos from over the garden fence, but as Toots says...I'd have like proof of her current cracks, as it were, just so as not to get blamed for future ones...

JimAndTonic Mon 28-Mar-16 16:00:26

Hi - I thought I would resurrect this thread as we are in a similar position to the OP (just getting things into place, PP granted, waiting on building regs but our NDN has already got her knickers in a twist so I know we will have issues with her.

Wondering how OP got on in the end?

And looking for up to the minute advice on what to do if NDN refuses to sign a party wall agreement?

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