Neigbouring Structure is to be Demolished – is Notice Required?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

Our property is over 200 years old. Before we bought the property, and obviously before there was such strict planning laws, a large commercial building, currently being used as a garage, was built. The side wall of the commercial building is very close, probably about a couple of foot, to the back wall of our property. The building carries on at an angle beyond our back wall along the side of our land. However, at the end of our land there is still only approximately no more than 10 foot between the boundary and the side wall of the building. We do not know where the official boundary lies between the properties, it could be our back wall, or half way between the two buildings.

The garage owners have written a general letter to all their neighbours advising that work will start shortly to demolish the buildings, which is the first communication we have received from the owners. They state that they are not ‘demolishing’ the buildings, but ‘taking down’.

We are pleased the buildings are going, but are obviously worried about the possibility that this may damage out property. We have written requesting clarification but so far they have not confirmed whether or not they propose to excavate the foundations of the buildings, which would be particularly worrying. They have also not advised whether or not they would need to come on to our land to carry out any of the work.

Under the circumstances do they need a ‘party wall agreement’. Could we force them to consult with us before starting any work.

Answer

The owners of the commercial building do not need to consult with you to demolish the overground part of their building if it is an independent structure. If they propose to dig out its foundations and those foundations are deeper than the foundations to your property, and within 3 metres, then that part of the work would come within the scope of the Party Wall Act and they would have to serve you with a Notice of Adjacent Excavation at least 1 month before it was due to commence.

Once you receive the notice you would have an opportunity to appoint a surveyor at their expense who could look at how the work may affect the structure of your property.

I would recommend talking to the owners or their representatives and trying to get some more detail on what they plan to do – it may be that they plan to leave the existing foundations in place.