Party Wall Matters

Party Wall Matters

Postby neilbell » Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:41 pm

I live in a terrace of houses, they are staggered in pairs so that the front elevation of the house on one side is on the same line as ours and on the other is set approx 5 metres forward. This means that at the rear of our house, the gable wall of our kitchen adjoins our neighbours garden. A planning application has been submitted next door for a single storey extension across the full width of the rear of the house and a double storey across half the width of the house. This means that the proposed development will 1) butt against the party wall 2) require foundations to be excavated against our existing foundations.

Where do I stand legally with this? Does my neighbour need my consent to make any alterations to the party wall? I've spoken with a building developer in the UK who informed me that, although the Party Wall Act 1996 is only law in England & Wales, the planning authorities here in Ireland will attach conditions to the grant of permission (assuming granted) to protect the structural integrity of my house. Are there any planning or building regulations in Ireland that deal with this type of situation? Does the proposed development have to be offset from the party wall?
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby Bren88 » Wed Jun 14, 2006 1:59 am

He will be required to provide a level of protection during construction so that the wall isn't compromised. But why would he need to offset it from the wall. As long as its done right where is the problem. And he doesn't need your consent because he is only interfering with his property/land. As for the foundations, any part of the foundation (such as the concrete strip) that is on his side of the boundary is infact his and he can do alot as long as your house/land/wall isn't altered.
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby neilbell » Wed Jun 14, 2006 3:48 pm

Thanks for the info. However, the planning app also requires alteration the roof and will require the overhanging soffit on our property to be altered to allow the proposed new roof to tie in to our roof. I have no objections to the development, what I'm trying to establish is where I stand legally regarding alterations to the roof and/or party wall. I'm aware that the developer can do whatever he likes on his side of the party wall, but this proposed development will require works to my side aswell, including alterations required to remove piers and capping of the exisitng party wall in the garden and to the roof, for which he has not seeked consent or approval. Also, excavations that go below the existing footings of my property will have to be underpinned won't they?
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby Bren88 » Wed Jun 14, 2006 9:37 pm

neilbell wrote:However, the planning app also requires alteration the roof and will require the overhanging soffit on our property to be altered to allow the proposed new roof to tie in to our roof. I have no objections to the development, what I'm trying to establish is where I stand legally regarding alterations to the roof and/or party wall. I'm aware that the developer can do whatever he likes on his side of the party wall, but this proposed development will require works to my side aswell, including alterations required to remove piers and capping of the exisitng party wall in the garden and to the roof, for which he has not seeked consent or approval. Also, excavations that go below the existing footings of my property will have to be underpinned won't they?


Does your soffit overhang the party wall. If so then you have very little say as the boundry isn't just a wall on the ground but an imaginary plane the full height. If a tree branch from your garden grows over the wall, you neighbour may cut it it off and you can't do a thing. For the very same reason I doubt your objections to altering the soffit would be listened to at all.

As for the underpinning, It's his party wall too, so as long as theres no damage is ok. And underpinning may not even be needed.

My comments here are in a very general sense. There maybe issues that are overlooked, or because of a paticular situation, there may be exceptions. But without seeing pictures or being on site its hard to tell as my impression of the house might be completely off.
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby Copo » Thu Jun 15, 2006 12:31 pm

Bren88 wrote:If a tree branch from your garden grows over the wall, you neighbour may cut it it off and you can't do a thing. For the very same reason I doubt your objections to altering the soffit would be listened to at all.


I don't think you can compare an overhanging branch with a soffit detail on a boundary wall. I think a call to a planner in your local council should clarify your rights in terms of alterations to an existing boundary condition. I think the answer to your scenario would be of interest to all terrrace house owners. Keep us posted!
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby Bren88 » Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:56 pm

Copo wrote:I don't think you can compare an overhanging branch with a soffit detail on a boundary wall. I think a call to a planner in your local council should clarify your rights in terms of alterations to an existing boundary condition. I think the answer to your scenario would be of interest to all terrrace house owners. Keep us posted!



The branch was an analogy. Not a simile. i was using the branch as an example people might be familar with. And then stating that the same applies to the soffit. I wasn't suggesting that it might be the same. I know of times where people got into problems over this.



But I feel that the easyiest soloution might be for you to keep your offit intact, and for your neighbour to build to a lower height, i.e. for his eaves to sit under yours instead of trying to join them.
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby neilbell » Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:54 pm

Cheers for the info guys, this is a bit of grey area regarding our soffit, as the applicant proposes to actually alter our ridge, soffit etc to allow his roof to join mine and thus cover up his extension. This has implications for my property, as if the work is not carried out to building regs, then we could face problems with leakage from the roof and into our property. We could also face problems with fire regs and thus insurance. If we get down the nitty gritty of where my property ends, then surely his proposed roof cannot cross his property boundary i.e. centre of party wall. This is impossible, as he will need to extend felt & batten plus tiles onto my roof to ensure his development is waterproofed.
My point about all of this is surely the applicant who's proposing this development would have to seek my consent to make alterations to my roof BEFORE submitting the planning app. I'm aware that my soffit overhangs his property, that's the way the properties were built. Surely the applicant cannot then come along and start to cut this soffit back or indeed tie his roof into mine and for me to have no legal standing??
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby Bren88 » Mon Jun 19, 2006 8:54 pm

neilbell wrote:If we get down the nitty gritty of where my property ends, then surely his proposed roof cannot cross his property boundary i.e. centre of party wall. This is impossible, as he will need to extend felt & batten plus tiles onto my roof to ensure his development is waterproofed.

My point about all of this is surely the applicant who's proposing this development would have to seek my consent to make alterations to my roof BEFORE submitting the planning app. I'm aware that my soffit overhangs his property, that's the way the properties were built. Surely the applicant cannot then come along and start to cut this soffit back or indeed tie his roof into mine and for me to have no legal standing??


Do you want to make sure that the work is carried out correctly and you property isn't at risk. Or do you justy want to be bitter and try and prevent him from building.
Yes he would have to cross onto your roof with felt, battens and tiles. Do you have a problem with that. Especially seeing as how your soffit has crossed onto his for a number of years. If they were built that way it doesn't make it right.
And he doesn't need you consent before making a planning application. Thats why you are able to make objections. The PA will look at issues such as workmanship and protection of existing works.

Its not that hard to ensure this would be done right. Water protection is standard just like any house, and fire protection is a very simple detail. With worries about your property safety eased. Have you any other problems. You come accross as just not wanting this to go ahead. Instead of asking how can thid be done right, you're asking how can I stop this. If you've already made an objection then i hope your tone was one more of personal concern as it would under mine your objection.
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby neilbell » Mon Jun 19, 2006 9:27 pm

Bren, please don't make personal judgements on my reasons or concerns surrounding this application, what I'm trying to do by posting on this forum is to establish the legality of what has been proposed in the planning app. If you read through my earlier posting, you will see that I do not object to the proposed development, but the way it is being handled. I'm sure I would not be alone by objecting to the fact that work has been proposed on my property - let's be straight here, I've seen the drawings & I've spoken to the applicants architect and it is not just to the overhanging soffit - without my consultation. How would you react? Are you suggesting I am wrong to question how my property will be affected? If it were a simple case of a neighbour building an extension, then fine but this is not the case in this instance. It would be wrong NOT to question the applicants proposals. You make the planning system sound infallible, I'm sorry but I don't share your opinion on that one.

Thanks for your reply anyway, we'll try & keep it strictly business, no need to get personal now.
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby Bren88 » Mon Jun 19, 2006 10:10 pm

neilbell wrote:Bren, please don't make personal judgements on my reasons or concerns surrounding this application, what I'm trying to do by posting on this forum is to establish the legality of what has been proposed in the planning app. If you read through my earlier posting, you will see that I do not object to the proposed development, but the way it is being handled. I'm sure I would not be alone by objecting to the fact that work has been proposed on my property - let's be straight here, I've seen the drawings & I've spoken to the applicants architect and it is not just to the overhanging soffit - without my consultation. How would you react? Are you suggesting I am wrong to question how my property will be affected? If it were a simple case of a neighbour building an extension, then fine but this is not the case in this instance. It would be wrong NOT to question the applicants proposals. You make the planning system sound infallible, I'm sorry but I don't share your opinion on that one.

Thanks for your reply anyway, we'll try & keep it strictly business, no need to get personal now.

I assure you I wasn't making personnal judgements. You have every right to question/ensure the protection of your house and how it will be handled. I too would "question the proposal, probably along the lines of requesting construction details along te party wall. And get these assessed by somebody. If I wa happy with these I would be satified, and if I wasn't well I would obviously object.
As for me trying to make "the planning system sound infallible". I assure you that was hardly my intention. It is as flawed as every other thing around the country. Out of curosity, have you seen the details of the construction. As they would probably not be included in the planning application.
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby Bob Dole » Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:30 pm

If the soffits overhang the neighbours property then they are probably his.

I remember talk of "flying freeholds" - basically what one owns when one owns an apartment - i.e. you own a freehold which is up in the air somewhere - so it might be possible to argue that you are in fact the owner of the soffits. (This is just musing - and probably not backed up by fact - but what the hell).

If they are his he can do what he likes with them BUT there is a very common easement called a "Right to Support". Basically this was where a terrace of houses are built, relying on each other for support and one guy knocks his down. The neighbours are entitled to be supported if he knocks it down.
In Ireland this has been extended to include a "Right not to be damaged" - (can't remember exactly how it is called - I could look it up if pushed). Basically where a guy knocks down a house in a terrace, he must not only support, but must PROTECT the neighbour from water damage etc. on the now exposed wall.
Applied to your property, you should have an easement basicaly entitling you to have watertight details.

Furthermore he is not able to extend his building over the property line. As a matter of interest, I once objected to a development for that reason - that the neighbour was trespassing on my client's property with his soffit (to the extent of 10cm - but still a trespass) . The Planning Authority refused retention because the legal matters were not sorted out. (Yes I was rather proud of my sneakiness :) )

Not too sure about the Fire Regs aspect.
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby neilbell » Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:39 am

Thanks guys for the info. The construction details you are speaking of Bren were not submitted with the application, I've spoken to the applicants architect who assures me I will be supplied with the drawings. The point you make about viewing these construction details is exactly the point I was getting at, I would need to see exactly what the applicant is proposing before making my judgement and have them verified by my own person. The PA only contains plans & elevations, as per PA regs.

Thanks Bob for the info, it seems to be an area of contention and in need of law along the lines of the Party Wall Act in England & Wales. The terrace of houses I live in were built circa 1980 as Local Authority Housing, obviously details such as overhanging soffits were not of importance as the properties were council owned. However, with more of these type of property coming under private freehold ownership, it seems highly likely that we'll see more and more cases along the lines I'm seeing, with previously undipsuted areas coming under contention. It would be of great help if you could confirm the "Right Not to Be Damaged" easement you were speaking of, it will probably be of much use in the future....
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby Bob Dole » Tue Jun 20, 2006 2:43 pm

I was thinking last night regarding "flying freeholds" etc. I suspect that in fact if the soffits of your house extend over the notional line of your neighbour then it is YOUR soffit. It is not the same story as a branch which would grow over the line, or the same situation where you build a soffit over the neighbour (which would be trespass). Rather it is the situation that you inherit from the Corporation.

Here's a quote (with some background to give context) regarding easements. It's a little more complicated than I remembered -as it is in fact tied to the easement of support. Basically you have to argue that there is a threat to the structural integrity of your property if it is not properly protected by your neighbour.


Property Law 2nd Edition Paul Coughlan:
pg241:
"Secondly there are negative easements which give the dominant owner the right to prevent the servient owner from doing certain things on his own land. A common example of this type is an easement of light whereby the servient owner cannot erect anything on his land which would interfere with the flow of light to the dominant tenement. As pointed out by Lord Denning M.R. in Phipps v. Pears, the courts are wary about extending the category of negative easements. Here the plaintiff unsuccessfully claimed a right of shelter from the weather in respect of the flank wall of a house which had been exposed to the elements when a neighbouring house was demolished In the view of the English Court of Appeal, such a right would unduly restrict the alleged servient owner in the enjoyment of his property. An analogy with easements of support was rejected because, as pointed out by Lord Denning M.R., such an easement is partially positive insofar as it entails the exertion of force as against the servient land. While accepting that there is no separate easement of protection from the weather, the Supreme Court in Treacy v. Dublin Corporation [1993] 1 IR 305 added that in certain cases such protection may be inextricably linked to an easement of support. Here the defendants sought to demolish premises which supported those belonging to the plaintiff. The court pointed out that replacing such support with buttressing would be inadequate because exposure of the flank wall to the elements would, within a short space of time interfere with structural integrity."
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby neilbell » Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:49 pm

Thanks again Bob, you're right in your assesment, the soffit in question is on the gable and does extend over the notional line which divides the party wall. The house was built in this way and no alterations or modifications have been made to the roof since it was built. Currently, the soffit overhangs the garden, however the applicants proposals seek to alter this soffit to allow the construction of a new extension roof on his property. What I'm concerned about is the exact nature of what my neighbour will need to do to ensure that his proposed roof and my existing roof are covered and waterproof at the point at which they join. Removing the soffit, although overhanging his property, would then expose the top of the party wall. My neighbour would then need to effectively build his new roof on to mine across the party wall. It seems to be a bit of a grey area in terms on what can & can't be done. At the end of the day, what I'm trying to do is ensure my property is not at risk during or as a cause of the proposed works. Without similar legislation to the Party Wall Act, it seems to me the whole question of building works along/across party walls is open to interpretation...Thanks again
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby Bren88 » Tue Jun 20, 2006 9:13 pm

neilbell wrote: What I'm concerned about is the exact nature of what my neighbour will need to do to ensure that his proposed roof and my existing roof are covered and waterproof at the point at which they join. Removing the soffit, although overhanging his property, would then expose the top of the party wall. My neighbour would then need to effectively build his new roof on to mine across the party wall.



That is the most critical area and it is paramount that it is done properly. As you are aware he can't just built up against it. He will have to remove the bargeboard, soffit, gable ladder, some of the tiles (temp) and the shorter battens. Then sarking felt needs to be properly and securely laid and lapped with your own felt. To be confidant in the water proofing ensure he uses a felt with a grade of 5U or equivalent. But making sure it is ok to use with the old felt. New battens need to cross on to your roof for proper support. Reinforced mineral wool need to be laid along the full party wall, just like in a standard party wall. This also includes inside the soffit at the eaves. The old tiles can then be relaid, with the cut tiles being replaced by the new ones from his roof. Thet should be the same type obviously.

Think that should cover it. if im missing anything obvious then somebody please point it out.


And the fact that rhe house was one a council house makes the soffit a very grey area. It was never overhanging property because it was all the onw ownership. Until it was sold. Would imagine the solution is still somewhere along my original idea, he can build as long as you side is safe.
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby neilbell » Wed Jun 21, 2006 8:44 pm

Once again, thanks Bren, that's very useful info.Can you explain the need for the mineral wool? Is it to be laid along the top of the whole party wall? I have family in the building trade so getting the applicants proposals verified from a structural point of view would be the way forward. The applicants architect has supplied revised drawings (revised from those submitted with the PA) which detail exactly what he proposes and it looks like they've taken on board the issues with the overhanging soffit by building their roof below the existing soffit. They would have needed to do this anyway, as their property is minimum 500mm lower than ours, something that was not shown on the PA. However, as can be seen from what I've experienced, the issues surrounding notional boundaries and physical boundaries seems to be very vague here in Ireland and could easily be misinterpreted by either party. Do you see Ireland adopting the Party Wall Act? It seems to be needed.
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby Bob Dole » Wed Jun 21, 2006 10:51 pm

I doubt there is sufficient political pressure to push such an act through the legislature. I'm surprised it happened in the U.K. - how old is the act?
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Re: Party Wall Matters

Postby neilbell » Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:18 pm

Party Wall Act (England & Wales) was passed in 1996 & became law in 1997. Think it originated from exisitng legislation in effect in London to become nationwide.

http://www.odpm.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1131403
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