Our Neighbour is attempting to build a ‘Party Wall’ to restrict us from laying the Foundations for our Extension. Can he stop us building the Extension by using this act if we have Planning Permission?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

We have recently been awarded planning permission to build a two storey extension to the side and rear of our property. During the planning process our neighbours objected to us building up to the boundary (not on the boundary) however this objection was not upheld. On hearing that the planning has been passed our neighbour has immediately dismantled the boundary fence (which is his) and commenced building a brick wall with attached ‘shelter’ in a move that appears to be an attempt to build a ‘party wall’ to restrict us from laying the foundations for the extension. The planned extension will 12” from the boundary and  no doubt the foundations required will be deeper than the wall.

Can he stop us building the extension by using this act if we have planning permission? If we are forced to serve a notice he is likely to dispute it, in which case what is the likely outcome?

Answer

Your neighbour needs your consent to build a new Party Wall. It may be that he is building a new wall up to the boundary but wholly on his own land in which case he should serve you with a notice under Section 1 of the Act. You won’t be able to stop him building the wall but it would slow him down a bit – the statutory notice period is 1 month.

Once his new wall/shelter is in place it will be classed as a ‘Structure’ under the Act and you will have to serve notice under Section 6 if you are excavating within 3 metres of it and deeper than the base of its foundations. Assuming that your neighbour dissents to the notice the Act’s dispute resolution procedures will have to be followed and you will both have to appoint a surveyor – the Act allows for you to each appoint the same surveyor but if his intention is to delay you/add to your costs he will insist that you have separate surveyors (which is his right). You would be responsible for his surveyor’s reasonable fee as well as your own.

The process will not stop your building works from going ahead but will delay matters and add to the costs.

Follow-up

As our proposed foundations will be very close to the foundations now being built for this wall, when the surveyors look into the matter what would be there likely resolution? Could they say it is not possible to build the foundations so close to the wall without damaging it meaning we would have to change our plans? If we have to move the wall in even by a foot we will not have enough room for our proposed garage.

Answer

It is possible to excavate alongside existing foundations without causing damage as long as certain safeguards are followed. The surveyors are likely to agree that the trench should be excavated in a ‘hit and miss’ fashion so that the ground remains stable.