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next door's builders put a large hole in my wall - help!

(37 Posts)
Ginandcolic Mon 19-Oct-15 17:13:08

So, next door neighbours' builders are refurbing a flat in the house next to mine. This is what has happened:

- No notice of party wall works was issued
- They started work to remove a chimney breast and put steel joists in the wall to sure it up
- While doing this, they have knocked a bloody great hole in my wall on one side of my chimney breast. There is a crack in the plaster that extends up into the room above the hole; and down to the room below.
- There is another crack on the other side (but no hole) that coincides with the other steel joist and runs from floor to ceiling.

NDN has agreed to pay for a party wall survey (through a surveyor I have chosen) which is happening tomorrow. Could anyone help with some questions before this happens?

1. The neighbour and builders seem to think the builders will put the damage right themselves. Can I choose someone else? The builders are shoddy, don't follow regulations and only got building control permission when I challenged them on whether they had or not.

2. I am worried that the chimney will be damaged, can /should I get another survey? I wanted to open it up and have a wood burner in my kitchen but I am worried I won't be able to if the chimney is buggered - I certainly don't want to end up paying for repairs myself.

3. If the bricks, not just the plaster is cracked, which seems likely given the extent of the damage, I will need at least two, probably three rooms repaired. This could be lengthy and messy. Can I get compensation for the hassle, not just the cost? NB one is my study and I work from home so will need somewhere else to work.

4. Is 5pm on a monday too early to open and down a bottle of gin to help with the stress?

Thanks for any help or advice.

BTW, I have legal cover with my building insurance, should I get legal representation asap or see how it goes with the neighbours? I don't want to complicate things but I am feeling out of my depth as I know literally nothing about buildings or builders etc.

VimFuego101 Mon 19-Oct-15 17:18:47

I would at least call the building insurance advice line to let them know what's happened. You don't want to find later on that you should have notified them when it happened. Other than that I can only answer number 4 - never too early for gin. Hope you get it sorted!

EldonAve Mon 19-Oct-15 17:20:35

Take photos and call your insurer

Ginandcolic Mon 19-Oct-15 17:22:50

Good tips, thank you.

I don't want to be seen to be inflammatory by calling insurance people but I think you are right about keeping them posted. I certainly don't want to do anything (or fail to do something) that would invalidate my insurance at a later date.

Thanks Vim, I am reaching for the gin as I type... (didn't take much persuasion then...)

stuffthenonsense Mon 19-Oct-15 17:23:38

Sorry I can only help with question 4, and my answer is buy more and fill the bath with it, get a straw and try to get some sleep tonight and deal with it tomorrow. I could cryfor you, this seems just bloody awful (speaking as one who is currently stressed with having building work done by my own choice the thought of it being thrust on me in such a way would be soul destroying)

Ginandcolic Mon 19-Oct-15 17:27:20

Thanks stuff!

Yes I am already in shreds about the admin side of this. The practicality of having to have my walls ripped off and apart to be repaired because of someone else's fault is an abyss I can't quite look into just yet ...

I shall go and find a straw for my gin immediately...

Igelei Mon 19-Oct-15 17:37:11

Insurance - report it NOW. With accurate dates and times and everything you have. Take a lot of photographs. Get legal advice ASAP and don't talk to the builders or anyone else connected with it until you have done so.

Keep everything in writing. If the buildres say something or ask you to agree to something, refuse to agree, refuse to sign anything, say you want them to stop work until you have sought advice.

Just take back control. They've almost knocked your house down. Bastards!

Ginandcolic Mon 19-Oct-15 17:42:36

Thanks Igelei - good kick up the arse. I do have to report it don't I? Ergh. They really are such fuckers (the builders, not insurers).

I am just going to have to accept that it's going to go nuclear legal, right? Thinking about it, the cost of repairing things will have to be claimed from the builders' insurance I think? I can't imagine it is going to be cheap enough for them to shell out of their own pockets.

Oh bloody hell. I so don't want to be doing this but I am just going to have to be all over it aren't I? WAH.

3littlefrogs Mon 19-Oct-15 17:43:32

Definitely call your insurers immediately.
Your house may be unsafe.

The builders should be insured, but if they are cowboys they might not be.
I am having an extension done ATM and my builder has liability insurance over £million.

Whatever happens, it isn't your responsibility. Your insurers will deal with it.

Ginandcolic Mon 19-Oct-15 17:53:15

Frogs, that's a good point. The insurers might be able to help ... I guess that's why I have been shelling out for legal cover for the last 10 yrs worth of insurance payments...

Igelei Mon 19-Oct-15 17:58:30

Who employs the builders? It's their problem to sort out who pays for it.

Yes it's got to be done properly BUT there is no reason to think it will kick off.

The point of insurance companies is to stop it getting personal. They will liaise with the other people's insurance company and follow a protocol.

Hopefully no one need come to blows.

The builders will have to have it out with your neighbours. Not your issue.

Btw it is far better to have it out NOW than to wish for years to come that you had acted more promptly and been more insistent on things being done properly.

The value of your home has been significantly and adversely affected by this. Until it is sorted out consider them responsible for that. You only want it restored to its former condition with as little fuss and hassle as possible.

MyFavouriteClintonisGeorge Mon 19-Oct-15 17:58:45

Ring insurers immediately. The good thing about them is that they will be Rottweilers on your behalf (because every penny they wring out of the builders or your neighbour is a penny they don't have to pay you out of their own pocket).

All building should stop until the damage has been assessed and I would email your neighbour (everything in writing as others have said) tonight to say that.

If the builders approach you at all do not agree anything with them but please do ask them to provide details of their insurance cover.

yomellamoHelly Mon 19-Oct-15 18:02:20

Def. insurance company. Would imagine they'll be able to send an expert round asap who can advise / reassure / ensure it's put right properly. Wouldn't necessarily trust what the neighbour / builder has to say to you.

MrsFlorrick Mon 19-Oct-15 18:05:08

You should also call your local building control officer out for a look to see if they are carrying out the structural works safely.

The neighbour and builders may not let your loss adjuster assess their side so to speak to the local building control officer can demand access to have a look and ensure its safe before they proceed.

It's worth doing. You can't guarantee that they are carrying out the works safely and you wouldn't want to be living in an unsafe house.

It will more than likely all be fine and sorted quickly. It's an unpleasant surprise to say the least!

RandomMess Mon 19-Oct-15 18:08:28

To save you from an almighty headache tomorrow I'm just sending around a vat of tonic to go with the bath of gin.

OMG poor you flowers

OddBoots Mon 19-Oct-15 18:10:41

Hopefully you are on the phone to the insurance company now.

This sounds like a nightmare for you, hopefully the help of the insurance company legal team will minimise the stuff you need to do and organise.

Ginandcolic Mon 19-Oct-15 19:03:44

THANK YOU everyone for your responses.

I have called my insurers and found out I have cover for legal advice and representation- phew.

They are going to get an expert in this kind of thing to call me tomorrow and have said that the surveyor I have appointed to assess the damage is one they would approve of anyway so no need to send anyone else.

Hopefully the legal chaps can help with things. I have no idea what I am even asking for ie chimney survey? No chimney survey? Builders that I appoint or not? How much needs to be repaired and what additional compensation can I get for the hassle (I assume minimal but I guess we'll see).

Anyway, big thanks for getting me off my arse to do something rather than faffing and mithering on my sofa.

I am actually going to have a gin now. GLUG.

Will update tomorrow with what the surveyor said for anyone who is interested!


3littlefrogs Mon 19-Oct-15 19:49:35

Your insurance company will sort it all out. That is what you pay them for.

I had a huge problem a few years ago due to my neighbours and their drains. It went on for nearly 2 years (due to their landlord's non-cooperation, but it was all sorted eventually). All the repairs were done and my whole house was redecorated. So it ended well.

K1mberly Mon 19-Oct-15 20:08:21

Your insurance company will sort it out and recover the money from the other party .

DolphinsPlayground Mon 19-Oct-15 20:21:18

Eek that sounds like a nightmare! Gin sounds like a good plan! grin

FannyFifer Mon 19-Oct-15 20:25:42

Glad u rang insurers that is absolutely what u pay the money for.
I really feel for you, what a bloody nightmare..

Ginandcolic Tue 20-Oct-15 11:20:39

Hello all

So the surveyor came round and is going to report three areas of damage and recommend a chimney survey to make sure that it hasn't been damaged too.

I think I am just going to hand everything over to the insurers now. Fingers crossed they accept my claim - I can't see why they wouldn't though as it's pretty black and white.

Bloody hell.

I also went to see my GP who has put me on beta blockers while this is all sorted out ... I feel a bit pathetic needing drugs to deal with it but I am feeling better after taking one!

Thanks again everyone for your pointers, hopefully this will be sorted speedily


Gazelda Tue 20-Oct-15 11:45:29

I had an insurance claim for damage to 3 rooms not so long ago. The insurers dealt with it brilliantly, tried to cause minimal disruption to me (eg taking time off work for surveyors etc) and kept in touch all the while the various tradesmen were here.
I hope your insurer will take care of the situation equally efficiently.

Ginandcolic Tue 20-Oct-15 15:28:48

That's good to know Gazelda, thanks. Fingers crossed ... x

kickassangel Tue 20-Oct-15 15:43:50

You may not want to do this, but it is possible that you are also covered for compensation to cover things like loss of earnings, hiring a suitable place to work outside the house, redecorating the house, stress etc. However, everything will have to be proved. So - if you end up running up a bill at your local coffee shop because you can't work at home, every cup of coffee needs a receipt. You would need evidence for a doctor for the stress (and the doctor might charge, so you then need to present that bill etc.)

Just think of the worst case scenario of everything that could possibly need to be covered, then if half of that stuff doesn't happen, it will be a pleasant surprise.

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