Planned Excavation Work and Possible Resulting Damage

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

I have received notice for excavation and building work under section 6 of the Party Wall Act 1996 from our neighbours. Under the Act I have the right as an  ‘Adjoining Owner’ to be compensated for any loss or damage caused by relevant works. If damage appears on my property after the original ‘Building Owner’ moves on (i.e. sells the house) what is the situation?

Are the new owners liable? They may argue no knowledge of the party wall agreement and is the original ‘Building Owner’ liable? If they are then some form of agreement before work begins needs to put in place.

Answer

I have to be honest and say I don’t know the answer to that question. It is not a situation that is likely to arise on a residential building project – damage from excavation work will be ground movement caused by the removal of support. Movement of that type would come to light fairly quickly.

Also, the excavation work tends to take place at the start of a building project so by the time your surveyor returns to check off the schedule of condition several weeks have passed by.