I Want to Enclose a Party Wall That my Neighbour Built – Should I have to Pay For His Expensive Bricks?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

Firstly thank you very much for providing this site, it has proved invaluable over the somewhat turbulent process of sorting out my party walls!

I’m now at the end of my development and everything seems to have gone well except one slight issue with one of my adjoining neighbours.

I recently added a loft extension to my terraced house and on one side my neighbour is a developer and is doing the same. However, he has been doing his for over four years now and work seems to have ground to a halt.

This is causing me concern as he has dug down to create a basement as well as a loft extension and although the shell of the property is complete, there is still a great deal of structural work to be completed.

My questions in this regard are; is the part wall agreement signed with the previous owners of my property four years ago still valid? Now that my development is finished, do I need his surveyor to come and carry out a new schedule of condition while he carries on with his works?

I think he has completed all the work on the party wall barring studwork, insulation and plastering, so as far as the agreement goes, is he now operating without the need for my consent?

Also, since I have used the party wall that he built for my own loft conversion, I am now liable under section 11 (11) of the act to pay 50% of the costs at the current rate. I have accepted this and agreed to pay 50% of what my builders have quoted me for the work they did on the undeveloped wall with my other neighbour. This was £800, so I have offered him £400.

However, he is demanding £1,500 for the wall and his surveyor is claiming that this is because he used much more expensive bricks than I did. He has said that if I don’t pay this amount, he will take me to County Court.

Am I obliged to pay his made up amount, or the costings I have sourced for the work carried out ‘at the present time’ such as what my builders did on the other side? He has provided  no evidence of costs, but as he is a developer, I can’t imagine it would be too difficult to magic up an invoice to this effect.

Sorry to bombard you with so many questions- as I can see from the site, its a bit of a minefield for everyday members of the public to try and get through.

Answer

Can I check something with your first? Before you started your work did you serve notice on the adjoining owners (the developer) and if so did he dissent and appoint a surveyor? If you can come back to me on that I will run through the rest of your queries.

Follow-up

I did serve notice to the adjoining owners properly and the chap I am having problems with has already agreed to the work going ahead,  however, we did appoint a surveyor (his choice) between us to carry out a schedule of condition and write up the agreement. In fact I now have a signed party wall agreement between myself and him, the only dispute is that in the final agreement, they have slipped the £1,500 figure in there without consulting me. I accepted my obligation to pay 50%, but the actual figure was never discussed.

I very much doubt he can do this, hence my conundrum.

Answer

If you appointed a surveyor between you he must have acted as ‘Agreed Surveyor’ so although your neighbour put the name forward you had to confirm your agreement in writing – you could have chosen to use a separate surveyor.

It would be completely wrong for the adjoining owner and the ‘Agreed Surveyor’ to agree the compensation payable together. Compensation payable under section 11(11) of the Act should be decided by the appointed surveyor alone. There is no requirement to consult you on the figure either.

If you think that there has been some collusion between the appointed surveyor and the adjoining owner then your only recourse would be to appeal the award – that would have to be done within 14 days as after that it becomes final.

Regarding the other part of your question, if your neighbour’s work had not been completed when you purchased your property then you would take over the previously agreed award. If all that is left to do is studwork, insulation and plastering it would appear that the notifiable work has been completed. You should therefore ask the surveyor appointed by your predecessor to come back and check the schedule so that the award can be signed off – he would have allowed for the additional visit in the award.