Category Archives: Special Foundations

Do I Have the Right to Install Piled Foundations on the Party Wall Line?

Question

Are there any rights to install piled foundations (circa 6m deep) on the party line (the existing garden wall is to be knocked down and rebuilt as part of the extension).

In order to ensure the build runs smoother and we maintain a relationship with our neighbours we have compromised on design (will need amendment back into planning).  This compromise will be detailed within the consent letter that the neighbours send back.  Would we still be liable for the cost of a surveyor if they appointed one at a later date?

Answer

As the existing garden wall is being knocked down and replaced with the exterior wall of your extension it must be either a shared wall or in your ownership – either way you can place new foundations, piled or otherwise, on the boundary and project them on to the neighbour’s land if that is necessary.

Yes, if your neighbour has reason to appoint a surveyor at a later stage you will be responsible for that surveyor’s reasonable fee. The right to appoint surveyors after an initial consent was established in a recent court case. You can read a summary here http://www.building.co.uk/legal/party-wall-act-good-news-for-good-neighbours/3118763.article

Follow-up

I was under the impression that I needed his consent to put ‘special foundations’ astride the line of junction; mu foundations are potentially 8m deep piles (likely reinforced).

Answer

Yes, special foundations below a party wall do require the Adjoining Owner’s consent. You should ask you neighbour to sign a letter of consent along these lines:

As owners of the above property we hereby consent to the construction of special (reinforced) foundations below the party wall between address/address in accordance with Section 7(4) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

How can I Design my Extension as to avoid the need to Serve Notice?

Question

In relation to the question asked below :
 
How Far Back From the Line of Junction Should I keep my New Wall to Avoid Serving a Section 1 Notice?
 
The Question above had existing foundations in place. If you didn’t have existing foundations in place, how could you go about extension design to avoid having to serve notice. 

e.g. Neighbours extension might have 600mm depth foundation, which would limit the householders depth to 600mm, could an eccentric foundation or solid slab then be used at that depth and the building line set back the 2-3 inches from the boundary line as you suggest in the original answer?

Left side Neighbour, right side proposed extension as p

xxxxxxx   pppppppp
x             x p             p
x             x p             p
xxxxxxxxOxxxxxxx
x                x              x
x                x              x
x                x              x
 
Also a new question (I think), at the point marked on the diagram “O”, ie my back wall past both the centre line of the main party wall, and the brick either side, ie the full thickness. In building an extension you would probably use a metal wall starter, is this classed as a party wall, in that its the same wall that extends all the way across the back of the house or is it only a dividing wall and any part of it.

Answer

Using a raft foundation would be one way of avoiding the need for a Section 6 notice – as long as you don’t need to excavate deeper than the base of your neighbour’s foundations Section 6 is not invoked. 

There’s no clear answer to the wall starter question. It comes down to whether the party wall ends at the internal or external face of the rear wall. We tend to include it on a party structure notices where other Section 2 works are being undertaken but personally the risk of damage is so low that I would not serve notice just for a wall starter. Also, if you are keeping back from the line of junction to avoid a Section 1 notice the wall starter will be barely over the line of the party wall.

My Neighbour’s Surveyor Says My Notice is Invalid

Question

I am currently planning a side return extension and have served a party wall notice on my neighbour who has evoked her right to appoint a surveyor.  The problem is that the surveyor has begun by sending a “statutory notice and formal request” document. This says: that my neighbour:

Does ‘not accept the validity of the purported notice’ because

  1. Not all owners are named (I am the only owner and am named on it….unless the lenders need to be named too)
  2. The nature and particulars of the work are not properly detailed….. I described it as “Single storey extension to side return of property. The proposed works do involve special foundations and as such I attach the relevant plans, sections and details of construction.”
  3. The start date is not stated or is too soon (less than one month)…….again I clearly stated this (a date a month and ten days after serving the notice)

What would you advise i do as the surveyor is clearly being awkward and seems to be making false claims about the invalidity of my notice. The neighbour is affable and merely concerned that her foundations may be affected. It seems they are overcomplicating the process by not accepting the notice!

Answer

From what you say your notice would appear to be valid. Now that your neighbour has dissented and appointed a surveyor you will also have to appoint a surveyor so that an award can be agreed. So long as you choose a surveyor that is experienced in party wall matters he will keep the process moving along despite the Adjoining Owner’s surveyor’s apparent incompetence.

Building Owner is Refusing to Repair Damage Until we Consent to his Special Foundations

Question

We live in a terraced property and have been trying unsuccessfully, for over 13 months, to recover repair costs from our adjoining neighbour who started building work unlawfully and caused damage to the party wall in the process.

After much pressure and dispute, the necessary Planning Permission and Party Wall notification were subsequently put in place. The latest negotiation tactic being used by the building owner requires us to give consent to ‘special foundations’ in return for an offer to meet the cost of the repairs to the earlier damage. It would seem that we came to an impasse as we rejected the offer – on the grounds that we were being held to ransom and suggested that we would be prepared to discuss the issue of consent to ‘special foundations’ after payment had  been received for the repairs.

Recent information from our surveyor indicates that reinforcement is actually now being used regardless in the foundations currently being constructed (for a new basement). We regard this to be a further act of blatant disregard to the relevant laws but we have no confidence at all, in the process for enforcement.

Would you have any advice as to what our next cause of action should be?

Answer

Payment for damage should not be dependent on your consent to special foundations. The damage should have been assessed by the appointed surveyor(s), a payment in lieu agreed and that figure confirmed to the owners in an addendum award (or an exchange of letters).

The only way to enforce a surveyor’s award is by going to court although that should be quite straightforward.

It is difficult to advise you in detail when a dispute is already this far down the line. Have you not asked your appointed surveyor to assist? Did you have separate surveyors or did both owners concur in the appointment of an ‘Agreed’ Surveyor?

Follow-up

The initial damage was assessed by both appointed surveyors but no addendum award was issued – only the original one which did not include a payment in lieu.

As for the special foundations; the information that reinforcement is being used in the foundations had to be dragged out of our appointed surveyor. We find that information is not readily forthcoming from him even when prompted directly – which adds to our frustration at the moment. Would we need him to take this information to court? And as the work is currently ongoing, what happens if it is completed before any action can be taken?

Answer

If you feel that the surveyors have failed in their duty to deal with the damage that has occurred you can ask the selected Third Surveyor to become involved – you will find his details in the award. As an owner you can make a formal referral to him although it may be best to try and have an informal chat first as a referral will generate fees.

Regarding the special foundations – the reason why they require your consent is that they are difficult to alter later. While I would not suggest agreeing just because you are being put under pressure by the Building Owner there is no reason not to consent if they will not obstruct you in the future.

While I do not have any personal experience on this point I would guess that a court would insist that any special foundation that were cast without consent should be removed.

I feel Like I am Being Bullied

Question

My neighbour issued a Party Wall Line of Junction Notice to build a rear extension on the boundary.  I believe the notice was invalid as there were no plans/drawings provided as well as the proposed date was less that 7 from the date the letter was issued.  

We responded stating that we could not sign any agreement, listed some conditions, and requested the plans/drawings to be provided. My concern is that his foundations/footing, roof, gutters etc, will be coming into our land.  

My neigbour then responded providing quotes from the Party Wall Act of Section 22 and specified he does not need consent from us if he is building entirely on his own land. The letter then further quotes Section 18 with regards to right of access for construction. Will providing access consequently mean he can dig up my garden or patio floor? 

We responded requesting that a gap is left between the party wall (a brick wall on our land) and their new extension or we would like a surveyor to be apointed at his cost, as per the Party Wall act.  

My neighbour then replied stating that he would not leave any gap and also not pay any cost towards a 3rd party surveyor under any circumstances unless there is a legal reason. He then continues to mention his rights under the act to gain access to our property to work on his extension.  

At this stage I am bewildered as to how can he continue to throw ‘rights’ under the act when we have not signed nor appointed surveyors? Does this not mean that we have entered into ‘dispute’. If so, my understanding is that my neighbour can only proceed his construction once both parties have appointed surveyors to create an award, which he should bear the ‘reasonable’ costs for. 

Also, from what can see, my neighbour has issued an invalid notice due to the following:

1) The specified proposed start date of work was less than 7 days notice.

2) There were no plans/drawings attached with notice, depsite the letter stating this was present (to this date we have yet to receive any plans/drawing).

Does this mean he needs to start from the begining and issue a valid notice? 

I have no idea what he intends to do and how my land will be interfered with. I am assuming the worst as he is proposing to build within his boundary (up to the current brick wall) and therefore his foundations/footing will enter into our land. I also do not want any unreasonable rainwater from his wall overflowing into the brick wall or garden. 

I am not looking to be an obstruction and would just like this settled but our previously experience with a ‘construction gone wrong’ scenerio ended with the same neighbour advising us ‘you should done more research and known what you was signing up’. I hope this explains why I am sceptical of his new project.  

I feel like I am being pushed/bullied by people quoting acts which I am unfamilar with, and there appears to nothing that will stop him from commencing work despite the fact that he is not complying to the Part Wall Act. 

What do you recommend I do at this point? At this point I am stressed enough to reply reminding him he is not complying and threaten an injuction. I do worry that he will ignore this and commence work and do as he wants.  

What should I be expecting from his at this stage? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Answer

Notice under section 1 of the Act only requires your consent if the Building Owner wishes to start work early (within a month of the notice) or intends to project their foundations over the boundary. From what you say both of these apply in this case. The notice can state a desired starting date within one month but work cannot commence on that date unless you give your consent.  

Section 22 or Section 18 have nothing to do with line of junction matters or access. 

Drawings do not necessarily have to be attached to a section 1 notice unless reinforced foundations are to be used although it would be considered good practice to include them – especially if the foundations are to project beyond the boundary.  

Access is dealt with under Section 8 of the Act. There is much debate amongst surveyors as to whether there is a right of access for section 1 works – my own view is that there is and that it would normally be to the benefit of the Adjoining Owner to allow it.  

All of the new wall and anything attached to it (gutters, eaves etc.) should be on the Building Owner’s side of the boundary (unless you allow otherwise).  

So, if the Building Owner wishes to project footings over the boundary he will require your consent (and you have the right to appoint a surveyor) or if he wishes to start work early he will also require your consent.  

Have you checked if Section 6 of the Act applies in relation to the excavation works?

Should I Consent to ‘Special Foundations’?

Question

My neighbour is planning to build a basement, I have been asked to sign a notice of consent for special foundations.  I asked my surveyor the difference between foundations, he stated the only difference is special are stronger and I am at no disadvantage by approving this is my neighbours build.  Is this correct ?  If so why would I have to consent?

Answer

‘Special’ under the party Wall Act means reinforced – normally with steel bars. The reason that they require written consent from an adjoining owner is because they are more difficult to alter should you ever need to. This dates back to a time when some foundations were considerably wider (known as ‘grillage foundations’) and really would hinder an adjoining owner’s future plans due to the distance they projected. 

In basement conversions, the underpinning is reinforced to allow it to be slimmed down and take up less space so your main concern would be whether the toe of the foundation will project on to your side of the boundary at a position which may hinder you adding a similar, or deeper, basement in the future.

Your surveyor should have reviewed the foundation design and be able to advise you on this.