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Retaining wall - implications for new extension

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Retaining wall - implications for new extension

Postby Thomas&22 » Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:45 pm

My brother has recently bought a terraced house. The previous owner of the house is now deceased and he bought it from the estate.

The neighbouring property owner built a new retaining wall about half a metre high by 80cm wide by 10 metres long in 2014; The properties are built on a slope and each garden is lower than the next. The neighbours have put a fence on top of said wall. However, we believe that about 40cm of this new wall falls on my brother’s land. This assumption is based on if you stand in the back garden and look at where one house ends and the others begins, the new wall is over to my brother’s side of this dividing line, the fence sits exactly in the middle and visually is on the dividing line. (if that makes sense). The land registry plan shows the boundary to be in-line with the fence dividing line as described above. I have no idea whether the neighbour got the approval of the previous owner and he can’t ask them as they are deceased.

The wall is breeze block and unsightly. However, the main issue is that my brother wants to build a 3 metre rear extension under permitted development. In doing so he may disturb the foundations of the neighbour’s new wall. As the neighbour’s wall exists, does my brother have to narrow the width of his extension in order to avoid damaging the foundations? This may mean he loses quite a bit of his extension width.

If the new wall should have been a party wall and relevant notifications submitted, can my brother pursue this or did this requirement die with the previous owner.

I have drawn a picture but don't know how to upload from my pc. Google earth history shows, albeit faintly, the line of the old boundary fence before the new wall was built. I beleive that to be the correct boundary.

Thank you.
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Re: Retaining wall - implications for new extension

Postby atticus » Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:53 pm

Tell your brother to think very long and to think very hard before embarking on any kind of a neighbour dispute. Whatever deeds or plans may show, he can remind himself that he made the decision to buy this property after seeing it, and before seeing any plans or deeds.

Look up the Land Registry General Boundaries Rule. LR plans are far from definitive.

Your brother should consult a Party Wall surveyor about his proposed extension.
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Re: Retaining wall - implications for new extension

Postby theycantdothat » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:34 pm

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Re: Retaining wall - implications for new extension

Postby dls » Sat Dec 10, 2016 7:09 am

Heed Atti. Run a mile before getting into a dispute with neighbours. If having run the mile you still feel so minded, run another. Repeat as often as is necessary.

Ask first whose owns the wall, and who rebuilds it. Retaining walls can be notoriously complex and expensive.

What value does the addition of a car parking space add when set against the created substantial loss of value created by a dispute.
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Re: Retaining wall - implications for new extension

Postby Hairyloon » Sat Dec 10, 2016 6:13 pm

If the digging of foundations for an extension risks undermining the foundations of the wall, then can you not just go a but further and underpin the wall?
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Re: Retaining wall - implications for new extension

Postby atticus » Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:38 am

Maybe, but this is expressly covered by the Party Wall Act. It sets out procedures to follow.
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Re: Retaining wall - implications for new extension

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Dec 11, 2016 1:51 am

Correct me if I am wrong, but the Party Wall Act is not a building manual. It does not give practical advice but sets out legal procedures to follow in the absence of a simple agreement between parties.
If underpinning the wall is the most practical solution and the neighbour agrees to that, then the Party Wall Act is largely irrelevant.
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Re: Retaining wall - implications for new extension

Postby tph » Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:00 am

There is no legal requirement to follow the party wall act, however in the event that the neighbour claims damage to their wall the onus will be on the person who has not followed the act to prove they have not damaged it. In this scenario the recommended course would be to appoint a party wall surveyor and pay for the neighbour to appoint their own.
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Re: Retaining wall - implications for new extension

Postby diy » Sun Dec 11, 2016 9:14 pm

TPH is correct, there is no ability to enforce the party wall act if not adhered to, it simply sets out default liabilities for damages. That is not to say things can't get expensive if claims are made.
My suggestions are not legal advice
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Re: Retaining wall - implications for new extension

Postby dls » Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:02 am

There is nothing here to establish clearly that this is a party wall as such. Retaining walls are commonly the source of disputes where each side is keen to disclaim any ownership.
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