The Adjoining Owner will be entitled to notice if the neighbouring Building Owner proposes to carry out certain types of building work. This includes but may not be limited to works to jointly owned/party structures, excavations that are close to neighbouring buildings or structures, and the building of new walls on the line of junction boundary.
Many Adjoining Owners worry that their property could be damaged by the building works and our role will be to try and ensure that this cannot happen by looking in detail at the proposals and designs and thus working to arrange proper working methods. Surveyors under the Act are usually not designers but have to consider the risks and should look to minimise the risks by agreeing prudent working methods
Adjoining Owners are entitled to expect to have their surveyor’s reasonable fees paid by the Building Owner so long as such relate to the administration of matters under the Act. The fees have to be both reasonable and justifiable and relate to matters arising from the notice/s served and the Award made.
We would usually want to inspect the adjoining property before commencement of the works in order to have a record of its current condition. Referred to as a schedule of condition it can be referred to if an allegation of damage arises. In some cases it is also good practice for the schedule to be checked on completion of the works.
However, the appointed surveyor or surveyors do not 'police' the works and if damage is alleged this should be brought to the attention of the building owner so that a resolution can be agreed. This could be repairs being carried out, or could be a payment in lieu to enable works to be done at some later date.
There can be matters where the proposed works are complex in character and where the risks are significant and it may be appropriate for the Adjoining Owner's surveyor to engage with and seek the assistance of an advising engineer to assist with the consideration of the proposals and a safe and sound working method.
It is also appropriate in some circumstances for the Building Owner to be asked to lodge some money in an escrow account in case problems arise, works remain incomplete or damage requiring early rectification occurs.
Although a claim for such can always be made is more appropriate in some matters than others.
The Act through the provisions of section 8 does assist a Building Owner with certain rights of access into and over adjoining land and property. This can be contentious and has to be well managed.
Unfortunately if the Building Owner fails to serve requisite notice and commences works the Adjoining Owner is in a difficult position and has to rely upon Common Law rights. Should this arise and following the case of Shah -v- Power & Kyson a good solicitor may be required!
However, do still contact us for an initial discussion.
If you have received a notice under the Act and have concerns please do contact us for an initial consultation. We will be happy to help and advise.