Party Wall is ‘bulging’ and Unsafe and Needs to be Rebuilt

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

We own a victorian house that is has an original stone party fence wall with the adjoining land – this land, some 15 years ago, was developed into 22 flats.  The factors of the flats have written to us to advice that the party wall is ‘bulging’ and unsafe and needs to be rebuilt at a cost of £18,000 plus VAT
 
On our inspection the wall appears to be a retaining wall on our side and the problem is at the base of the wall on the side of the flats and does indeed look unsafe for around 60 feet in length.  It appears the land has subsided from the base of the wall with has led to it moving.
 
Our main issue is that the factors are requesting the cost to be halved between the factors and us – is this correct or should it be divided between us and the flats?
 
The letter has come from a building preservation company and does not outline what, if any, tests or evaluation has been carried out and does not indicate if they are structural surveyors. 
 
Can you offer any advice as to the legal ownership of party fence walls with multiple dwellings and avenues we can go down to get further advice.

Answer

I can’t help with establishing the ownership of the wall – the only reliable information will be in the deeds of the properties. If it does turn out to be a party fence wall and you cannot agree on the costs of repair or on who is responsible one of the parties should serve notice on the other under Section 2(2)(b) of the Party wall Act.

If the other owner dissents to the notice then surveyors will have to be appointed and they will decide who should bear the costs – section 11(5) of the Act says that costs should apportioned according to the use made of the wall and responsibility for the defect or want of repair occurring.