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Party wall - neighbour failing to inform structural changes

(9 Posts)
whats4teamum Wed 07-Sep-11 13:51:30

My non resident neighbour (semi detached houses) mentioned that as part of extensive building works they were planning to remove a chimney breast on the party wall. I had half an hours free advice under the RICS scheme and was advised the neighbour would have to serve a party wall notice. I mentioned this to neighbour who blustered that architect had not told him but would look into it. about two months have passed and we have heard absolutely nothing from them until the builders arrived to start work. So no notice has been served. DH thinks we should say nothing but what if there any problems. There were other structural works along party wall which he did not detail but we expected to see in notice. Any advice?

captainmummy Wed 07-Sep-11 14:54:49

Party wall agreements are a waste of space. All they say is that if said neighbour causes damage to your property, he has to pay to rectify it. This is covered in common law anyway.
I would take photos of the wall in question, preferably with a timestamp, and note the condition of it.
Inform your neighbour that you are doing this, and even send copies of the photos to him, as a 'before' shot.
Then wait and see. Make a note in 3 months or so to check again, takingphotos again.
Taking down a chimney breast would not normally damage the othe side of the party wall. They are separate structures, though you could ask if the whole thing is coming down (from chimney pots down) or, if only the internal bits are being knocked out, whether it is being sufficiently supported inside.

I'm doing the same thing in my house.

captainmummy Wed 07-Sep-11 14:57:15

Oh and re other works along the party wall - was there Planning permission? If so you should have had notice from them. If not (done under permitted developement) you should still be advised. Ask for a copy of the drawings, and where they impact you, take photos, as above.

Tianc Wed 07-Sep-11 15:01:27

Call to Building Control at local council. They can tell you whether this lot needs to be inspected, and you'll be notifying them - if they haven't already been - that something might need inspected.

Pang Wed 07-Sep-11 15:11:03

I guess it depends on where you are. In my area you do not need to inform neighbors or council of any internal works ( other than extentions) unless you are in a listed house. Removal of chimeny breasts are quite common place. They just have to make sure they don't effect the function of your chimeny or flu.
Good luck

said Wed 07-Sep-11 17:51:58

Agree that Party Wall Act is a waste of space and you are covered anyway. Plus, there are no penalties if you don't serve one and once the act that would invoke the Act is committed it is too late to serve one anyway.

The Council will usually know nothing about the PWA, ime and just be vague.

Pendeen Thu 08-Sep-11 23:12:05

Lets clear up a few misunderstandings here...

1. Planning permission is not required.
2. Building regulation approval may be required if the removal is only partial - for example if the exposed part of the chimney is left in situ
3. If the building is Listed or in a Conservation Area then Lsted Building consent may be required.
4. Your neighbour must serve a Party Wall notice. It is fallacy to suggest that this is "a waste of space" because - although the Act does not contain any enforcement provisions - long-established case law suggests a court will almost always presume your neighbour (the 'Adjoining Owner) ihs acted in bad faith and thus grant an injunction unless there are strong reasons to the contrary e.g. urgent structural repairs. Your neighbour will also be responsible for all costs including appointment of a 'second surveyor'.

whats4teamum Fri 09-Sep-11 19:39:32

Thanks everyone. They do have planning permission for extension etc. They have not spoken to us since we mentioned the party wall act. Previously were willing to discuss and show plans to us. Looks like they are going to be interesting neighbours.

If they refuse to do anything re party wall act is there anything we can do or do we wait and hope no cracks appear. Previous owners of the property did not undertake any maintenance for a long time and we suspect there may be structural issues dating back to them.

Pendeen Mon 12-Sep-11 08:49:41

You didn't say if you had put your concerns in writing, if not it would be a god idea to do so as soon as you can and specifically menton the party wall act.

As regards any cracking, take plenty of photographs of the wall as the neighbour's work progreses and note dates etc. If cracks do apear, the combination of the neighbour's failure to follow the act and your written records should be enough to seek recompense.

You could also check to see if they have included the structural alterations to the chimney breast and any other items on the drawings for the extension. Ring your local council and make an appointment to see the building control officer (not the planning officer) dealing with the application. Have a look at the approved drawings. If the alteration is shown then it is likely that the BCO will inspect this work as part of the usual site checke.

If the alteration is not shown mention it to him. He may wish to follow this up and require the neighbours to submit detailed proposals and structural calculations.

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