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Loft extension next door - party wall issue?

(12 Posts)
surprisedbyjoy Wed 29-Apr-15 11:09:34

We have received an (unsigned!) letter from our next door neighbour. I suspect it is a form letter provided by the company that is doing their proposed loft extension. It says that they need to remove bricks from their side of the party wall (1930's semi) to fit metal plates to hang RSJs to support the loft extension. They want us to sign and return the letter to show we have no objection. The letter says that their contractor will take responsibility for any damage to our property and will write confirming that if we want them to.

Is this the normal procedure for this? If the contractors are willing to write to us why would we need to request this? If there were damage to our property how would we show it was caused by their works?

sourdrawers Wed 29-Apr-15 12:00:07

Normally they'd remove the layer of bricks their side (The party wall is probably 2 brick widths). Cut a hole big enough to put the RSJ into the wall.. Build some of the wall up again with engineering bricks and sit the RSJ on those. Why are they putting in plates I'm wondering?

I'd contact the contractor and ask to have a word with the structural engineer who is attached to the project. Not being patronising here but I wouldn't settle to see the SE's report or their calculations as they use a lot of jargon you probably wouldn't understand. (You'd probably have to get your own SE to tell you what it all means.). Which is fine if they're, (neighbour) paying.

Ask to talk to the SE. Don't take the contractors word for it....They will have to have a SE to do calculations etc. If they don't and they say no, something is not right IMO. But I'm sure that won't be the case.. Best of luck and sign nothing for now is my advice!

DayLillie Wed 29-Apr-15 12:07:02

What sourdrawers says.

I think you are entitled to hire your own surveyor and for them pay for it. Do your research as I we had to deal with this the year the Party Wall Act came out and things may have changed.

1930s houses can be a bit odd structurally (eg load bearing bay windows!) so I would not sign without seeing some of the plans.

Woozlebear Wed 29-Apr-15 13:50:53

Is this literally just a letter of information, or is it asking you to sign to a party wall agreement? The latter is what it should be, and you have very clear rights under the party wall act including a surveyor (either the default used by the loft co, or your own choice) to inspect before and after for no damage, at your neighbours expense.

It sounds a big deal but it's v normal procedure.

sourdrawers Wed 29-Apr-15 13:55:28

Yes you should be fine here OP. As Woozle says you have the right to see a surveyor at neighbours expense before and after. But I'd still speak to the SE as well, just so you're comfortable you're not going to have any problems later.

surprisedbyjoy Wed 29-Apr-15 14:57:41

Thank you for your responses.

Woozle I'm at work and can't remember the exact wording but they do want us to sign to say we agree something. It doesn't mention the party wall act or surveyors which is what made me a little suspicious.

dingit Wed 29-Apr-15 15:03:39

Get the party wall surveyor. This comes from someone who did the loft extension, I was annoyed at the time, but it protects both parties, as our builders did some minor damage.

HereIAm20 Thu 30-Apr-15 16:51:38

They will need to submit a party wall agreement to you to sign and you are entitled to instruct a surveyor at their expense (and your choice of surveyor- different to theirs so he is independent).

I think they are trying it on by sending this letter!!

PennyJennyPie Sat 02-May-15 15:27:04

They are being cheeky. Ask for a party wall surveyor who will provide independent advise on whether there is damage, not the building company's subjective view. Have they spoken to you about this at all?

We are doing a loft conversion and have had to instruct a surveyor for both our neighbours, and pay for this. We are trying to do everything as amicable as possible because worst case scenario, they will not accept our appointed surveyor in which case our surveyor and a surveyor appointed by them appoint a third surveyor who will do the party wall agreement. Of course all costs will be picked up by us....

wonkylegs Sat 02-May-15 17:20:22

It is not true that they need to use a structural engineer. As long as the steelwork can be demonstrated to meet the minimum BReg requirements then they meet their obligations.
Most people will use a structural engineers calls but some companies 'over engineer' the steelwork so they can demonstrate that what they have put in will more than meet the loading rather than produce individual calculations.
There is a good government guide to the Party Wall Act here - find the booklet bit, there are also examples of the letter you should have received.

wonkylegs Sat 02-May-15 17:20:52

Calls - should read as Calcs

surprisedbyjoy Wed 06-May-15 09:27:54

Thank you for your help. The booklet wonkylegs links to is very helpful.

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