My Neighbour removed his Front Garden and built a Retaining Wall against mine. This was not done under the Party Wall Act. Where do I Stand?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

My neighbour decided to remove his front garden and  build a retaining wall against mine; his idea was to make a hard-standing for his car. Our respective gardens onto the road being around 1 metre above the pavement: the gardens are high relative to the road as the 1907 terrace is built into a hill. The front gardens are not of the required size for a car-parking space but the County Council has allowed the dropped kerb in any event!

No party wall procedure was followed; as I was absent from the property for work reasons I returned to find a potential for slippage of my house/garden into his hard-standing. The work was not submitted to any engineering body or authority to validate the strength of the wall and forces acting upon it. A horizontal drain pipe was also re-routed upon my property (this trespass and potential blocking of the deviation in the pipe is another issue).

Do you know whether cases have arisen which support my need to have the un-agreed work verified and rectified and if compensation to do the work can be had?    My front wall is falling down as a result of the upheaval – the new boundary wall is set lower and different than the original stone delimiter and I believe that the pipe (with no hatch on the “z” bend) will block and leave me with the bill and consternation of the other users.

Answer

From your description the work would have come within Section 1 of the Party Wall Act (new walls on the line of junction) and possibly Section 6 on account of the adjacent excavation. Therefore notice should have been served and your consent obtained or an award agreed before work commenced.

Unfortunately, there are no penalties for ignoring party wall procedures. However, your neighbour is still responsible for any damage caused by his works and were the case to end up in court his position would be seriously weakened as a result of ignoring party wall procedures. See the details of this case which relates to a similar situation.

The fairest solution would be for a surveyor or engineer to inspect the work at your neighbour’s expense and for any recommended remedial works to be carried out; also at your neighbour’s expense.