Our Neighbours have Started Work on a Side Extension and have not notified us. Are they in Breach of The Act?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

Our neighbours have already started work on a side extension (single storey), foundations have been laid. The foundations come very close to/abut the boundary line. This is approx. 1.4m from the side of our house.

  1. We received notification that building was due to start the day before the builders arrived.
  2. We have not received any details regarding the nature of the work other than that which was submitted for planning permission which the council planning department informed us of, not the neighbours themselves (council say it is a ‘permitted structure’ and doesn’t require planning permission).
  3. Neither the neighbours or the builders have told us how long the work is continued to go on for.

Are we correct in our understanding that the work in progress falls under the jurisdiction of the Party Wall Act and as such they are in breach of the Act?

Answer

If the new structure is ‘close’ to the boundary but not on the boundary then it is only the excavation work that may be notifiable – that will depend on whether they have dug down deeper than the base of your existing foundations. If they have they should have served notice under Section 6 of the Act (known as a ‘3 Metre Notice’) at least a month before commencing.

As the potentially notifiable part of the work has already been completed (the foundations) it is now too late to serve notice.  

Your neighbour will still be responsible for any damage caused by their works although it will be dealt with under common law rather than the dispute resolution procedures within the Party Wall Act.

Follow-up

Unfortunately the neighbours have failed to tell us what work they intend to carry out but we believe that they intend to build close to the boundary so that the eaves and guttering abut the boundary line (therefore the wall will be in the order of 6 inches (I guess) from the boundary. i.e. as close to the boundary as they can possibly get without being on or over it. Would this be notifiable?

Answer

No, the wall, rather than any projections such as guttering, must be on the boundary for it to be notifiable.