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.

TheChaoGoesMu Mon 13-May-13 20:03:57

Yes I would ring the planning dept at the council. Definitely.

I would call your local government building control. That is outrageous.

Ledkr Mon 13-May-13 20:05:30

Thanks for quick replies so you don't think I'm overreacting?
Do I ask for anyone in particular?

Shakey1500 Mon 13-May-13 20:08:15

Ledkr I'm sure you've done this already.....but take some photographs on a digital to record as evidence/dates etc.

LEMisdisappointed Mon 13-May-13 20:08:39

Definately ring the council, this may or may not be covered by the party wall act, if it was, then they should not have proceeded with the work without your permission. It really is down to your neighbour to ensure the building regs are being complied with but you are right, they sound like a bunch of cowboys. My DP is a builder and he would have put this right straight away, if it was not possible he would have at least explained what he was going to do about it and ensured it was safe in the meantime.

LEMisdisappointed Mon 13-May-13 20:09:39

ring your local council and ask to speak to building control.

LackaDAISYcal Mon 13-May-13 20:14:25

What on earth were they doing to your wall anyway? If it's on the boundary and they are building up to it, then you should have been served with a party wall notice, though iirc (been a few years since I was in the industry) certain projects don't need to comply with it.

Call the council's building regs department, or the planning department, or even the Health and Safety Executive. There are health and safety issues here as well as any potential party wall issues.

Ledkr Mon 13-May-13 20:19:43

I have had letters Re Planning permission which I didn't contest.
The first wall was a little garden wall with a fence on top and their digger bashed it when digging footings. Today it was an internal wall which is between our houses and they were apparently banging on it for ages really loud maybe knocking off plaster I'm not sure but that what caused the damage.
Shall I ring my insurance company?

LIZS Mon 13-May-13 20:24:13

Council can stop the work if they feel it is unsafe . Are the owners living there ? Might be worth speaking to them so they have the opportunity to call a halt pending the council's advice. Do you have a Party Wall agreement ? They should have included insurance as well as the builder having liability cover.

IDontDoIroning Mon 13-May-13 20:25:21

It's quite possible they should have got a party wall agreement before starting the work.
Perhaps start a thread on party walls in legal or property
I think you should consider getting some advice off a structural engineer.

LackaDAISYcal Mon 13-May-13 20:25:29

There is more information here but from a quick glance at the pdf, if your wall is on the boundary then you should have been served with a party wall notice.

If their extension is being carried out under permitted development rules, I'm sot sure where the party wall act stands with that though.

If they should be complying then they either make it good, or you can pay to have it made safe and they will have to pay you.

Ledkr Mon 13-May-13 20:29:57

Thanks so much no I've not had any party wall stuff.
I don't want them in my home patching it up and need to know its safe.
Ill ring council first thing.

LackaDAISYcal Mon 13-May-13 20:31:18

I would speak to your insurers, yes.

ajandjjmum Mon 13-May-13 20:33:38

Building Control at your local Council offices.

Ledkr Mon 13-May-13 20:33:43

Gosh it's quite upsetting I'm normally a tough old boot.
We've been really tolerant of noise and stuff but this takes the flipping biscuit.

EleanorFarjeon Mon 13-May-13 20:36:53

The party wall act applies. It is separate from planning or building regulations.

The owner should have served you with a party wall notice.

This is a civil matter between you & your neighbour, who should ensure it is rectified immediately.

Your building control officer may call as a courtesy but has no powers in a case like this.

Oh gosh, our builders did that to our neighbours many years ago - I felt awful for them although it was not my fault personally. Sorry you have to deal with this.

We were v good friends with our neighbours (and thankfully still are!), there was never any question that our builder would not take full responsibility for what happened. They did need access to the other property to properly repair and then redecorated the wall to our neighbour's wishes (they got wallpaper out of it, rather than just the previous paint). It was paid for by the builder's insurer (liability insurance).

I suppose it would not hurt to speak to your own insurance. They can go after the builder if it turns out they are not insured or just not interested in fixing it.

orangepudding Mon 13-May-13 20:38:15

I think they should have asked you to sign a party wall agreement even if it's a permitted development ,I need to request one for loft conversion and the buliders won't procced without it.

Ledkr Mon 13-May-13 20:47:32

The neighbours are nice but as clueless as us really.
I'm not sure what they intend to do though.
No I defo haven't seen a party wall agreement
God we've got so much on our plates we could so do without this.
Surely someone at some stage would have told them about a party wall thingy

LiegeAndLief Mon 13-May-13 20:48:18

We live in a semi and have recently had a conservatory built on the back of our house attached to the outside wall of the neighbours' house, which sticks out further than ours. We had to get a party wall agreement signed for that. When I was reading about it I got the impression that you needed a party wall agreement for any work at all that you were doing on a shared wall.

Hope it gets sorted out properly tomorrow.

jeepers. i have no advice but hope you get it sorted

they dont sound very good if they've just left it confused

Ledkr Mon 13-May-13 20:55:32

Exactly my point. Not even come to look so obviously not very professional.

EleanorFarjeon Mon 13-May-13 20:59:07

The 'good' news is that, if they don't rectify it to your satisfaction, you can get an injunction which will make them stop work until it's sorted (including the party wall issue).

This won't cost you anything - they would have to pay.

I'd advise you to Google 'party wall etc' which will get you to the very useful guide.

racmun Mon 13-May-13 21:09:36

This is a party wall issue. Look up party wall surveyors and have a look online. There is loads of info available.

They should have served party wall notice etc

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.

Planetofthedrapes Thu 16-May-13 10:48:37

...hmm Olivertheoctopus, I hope it wasn't a case of buy house, do development to add value, cause neighbors lots of grief and destruction, then sell up and move pronto.

Planetofthedrapes Thu 16-May-13 10:48:55

Sorry, meant disruption

Reastie Thu 16-May-13 15:14:56

wowsers ledkr . Get your DH to go over in his work gear and be very cross/strict about it - surely that would have an effect? <hopeful>. How awful.

In my old house the party wall was really thin and a few years before I moved in (it's owned by family) my Great Grandad was doing some work and accidentally knocked through to the pub next door - there was a hole in the wall to get drinks in whenever required grin . It was covered in and plastered over. I know that's no use to you at all but hoped it might make you grin a little in your miserable situ and maybe wish you lived next to a pub

flow4 Thu 16-May-13 19:29:55

The fact that there's 'no provision' in the Act just means there's no particular/separate criminal offence being committed; what the builders have done is almost certainly criminal damage, however - so an offence, but under a different act.
You will certainly be able to get an injunction to stop the work until there is a party wall agreement in place, but you'll need to take legal action. (Maybe you already have by now...) You will be able to damages too, but you'll have to take civil action to get them.
This isn't a failing of the Party Wall Act: the same applies in all cases of criminal damage. For example, someone threw a brick through my window and was caught, charged and cautioned... But I couldn't get him to pay for the damage without taking civil action against him. sad

Talkinpeace Thu 16-May-13 23:05:42

WRITE to building control - email is fine
cc in your local councillor and the local paper
that should kick their lazy buts into action

flow4 Thu 16-May-13 23:29:25

It'll make them buzz round a bit, but it won't change the fact that the council has no power to intervene in a civil dispute between neighbours...

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