Our Neighbour wants us to Sign a ‘Statement of Condition’ prior to him Giving his Consent. Should I Agree to this?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

We are building a single storey extension on the back of a mid terrace property and the work involves taking down the existing extension. One neighbour, who is the landlord of next door, has taken some photographs of the inside and outside of his property as a “statement of condition of the party walls and buildings prior to the commencement of the works”.

He has asked us to sign this as an acknowledgement of a true record of the condition of his house, and has asked us to sign to acknowledge that in the unlikely event of any damage we would not only have liability to repair the damage to his property but also a liability towards temporary housing of his tenants and loss of income and any other reasonable losses.  He has asked us to do this before he’ll sign the party wall notice. 

Should we do so, and how long is that statement of condition valid for, for example if a crack was to appear in 9 months time how could he prove it was due to our building work and how could we prove that it wasn’t?

Answer

If your neighbour is not willing to provide a ‘clean’ consent to your party wall notice I would take that as a dissent and get surveyors appointed so that an Award can be agreed.

You may want to point him towards a recent piece of case law where it was shown that an Adjoining Owner can still appoint a surveyor under the Act, for example to deal with damage that has resulted from the works, even if they consent initially. You can read a summary here – http://www.building.co.uk/legal/party-wall-act-good-news-for-good-neighbours/3118763.article (you can read this once without subscription so you may want to print it off).