I feel Like I am Being Bullied

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

My neighbour issued a Party Wall Line of Junction Notice to build a rear extension on the boundary.  I believe the notice was invalid as there were no plans/drawings provided as well as the proposed date was less that 7 from the date the letter was issued.  

We responded stating that we could not sign any agreement, listed some conditions, and requested the plans/drawings to be provided. My concern is that his foundations/footing, roof, gutters etc, will be coming into our land.  

My neigbour then responded providing quotes from the Party Wall Act of Section 22 and specified he does not need consent from us if he is building entirely on his own land. The letter then further quotes Section 18 with regards to right of access for construction. Will providing access consequently mean he can dig up my garden or patio floor? 

We responded requesting that a gap is left between the party wall (a brick wall on our land) and their new extension or we would like a surveyor to be apointed at his cost, as per the Party Wall act.  

My neighbour then replied stating that he would not leave any gap and also not pay any cost towards a 3rd party surveyor under any circumstances unless there is a legal reason. He then continues to mention his rights under the act to gain access to our property to work on his extension.  

At this stage I am bewildered as to how can he continue to throw ‘rights’ under the act when we have not signed nor appointed surveyors? Does this not mean that we have entered into ‘dispute’. If so, my understanding is that my neighbour can only proceed his construction once both parties have appointed surveyors to create an award, which he should bear the ‘reasonable’ costs for. 

Also, from what can see, my neighbour has issued an invalid notice due to the following:

1) The specified proposed start date of work was less than 7 days notice.

2) There were no plans/drawings attached with notice, depsite the letter stating this was present (to this date we have yet to receive any plans/drawing).

Does this mean he needs to start from the begining and issue a valid notice? 

I have no idea what he intends to do and how my land will be interfered with. I am assuming the worst as he is proposing to build within his boundary (up to the current brick wall) and therefore his foundations/footing will enter into our land. I also do not want any unreasonable rainwater from his wall overflowing into the brick wall or garden. 

I am not looking to be an obstruction and would just like this settled but our previously experience with a ‘construction gone wrong’ scenerio ended with the same neighbour advising us ‘you should done more research and known what you was signing up’. I hope this explains why I am sceptical of his new project.  

I feel like I am being pushed/bullied by people quoting acts which I am unfamilar with, and there appears to nothing that will stop him from commencing work despite the fact that he is not complying to the Part Wall Act. 

What do you recommend I do at this point? At this point I am stressed enough to reply reminding him he is not complying and threaten an injuction. I do worry that he will ignore this and commence work and do as he wants.  

What should I be expecting from his at this stage? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Answer

Notice under section 1 of the Act only requires your consent if the Building Owner wishes to start work early (within a month of the notice) or intends to project their foundations over the boundary. From what you say both of these apply in this case. The notice can state a desired starting date within one month but work cannot commence on that date unless you give your consent.  

Section 22 or Section 18 have nothing to do with line of junction matters or access. 

Drawings do not necessarily have to be attached to a section 1 notice unless reinforced foundations are to be used although it would be considered good practice to include them – especially if the foundations are to project beyond the boundary.  

Access is dealt with under Section 8 of the Act. There is much debate amongst surveyors as to whether there is a right of access for section 1 works – my own view is that there is and that it would normally be to the benefit of the Adjoining Owner to allow it.  

All of the new wall and anything attached to it (gutters, eaves etc.) should be on the Building Owner’s side of the boundary (unless you allow otherwise).  

So, if the Building Owner wishes to project footings over the boundary he will require your consent (and you have the right to appoint a surveyor) or if he wishes to start work early he will also require your consent.  

Have you checked if Section 6 of the Act applies in relation to the excavation works?