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Extending without using party wall act.

I live in a terraced house built in the 1980's, my neighbours house is set back from ours and consequently finishes further back from ours. It was designed with his external wall sitting on our boundary. I wish to extend my kitchen, we have no plans to go further than his house and consequently I am sure we will have no issue with the council regarding our proposals. The issue is my neighbour doesn't like change and has told me that he will object to our proposal whenever possible. Therefore I would like to do this without using the party wall act. I understand that this means building an independent wall and foundations, but to do this do I need to know where his foundations are? As his wall is on the boundary, I assume his foundations are partly on our land. Must I simply dig a hole to see? Once we know where his foundations are, we can plan to build next to them and as it will be single storey as opposed to his double storey I am assuming that we won't go deeper, therefore won't need a party wall agreement.

1 Answer from a MyBuilder Extension Builder

Best Answer

As you suggest, your proposed excavation being not deeper than the neighbour's would appear to remove any need for Party Wall Notice under the Act. Also, you may dig your own land as it were, that's your right. However, you should employ caution here for the following reasons:

1. As you propose excavating adjacent / near the neighbour's footings, you run the risk of making contact with them. or unsettling their stability. The slightest hint that your excavations have caused any damage / loss to the neighbour may give rise to claims against you.
2. You may end up excavating lower than the neighbour's footings, at which time you will be in contravention of the Act.

My advice is to:

1. Always try to make peace and resolution with the neighbour first (although I appreciate the points you've made).
2. Engage a competent Structural Engineer (such as MStructE) to advise upon foundation requirements for your proposals. When they consider this, ask them to consider the possible trial holes you have dug, which expose both the ground condition and maybe the neighbour's footings in part.
3. Once advised by 2 above, you may then know whether you will need to employ a Party Wall specialist (typically a RICS member locally) to act further.
4. DO NOT PROCEED lightly, make sure your liability is covered in all respects. Take professional competent advice.

Many Thanks, Jason, MCABE.


Answered 7th Sep 2015

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