The Party Wall Act And Damages – What Happens Next?

So your neighbour’s doing building work, and they’ve damaged your property. Construction works can be loud, messy and destructive at times, so accidents can and do happen. The question is, where do you go from there? And more importantly, how do you work out where the fault lies, and who should be responsible for the cost of repairs?

So Who’s Responsible For The Cost Of Repairs to an Adjoining Owners Property?

Thankfully this one is really simple. Under the Party Wall Act, the building owner is responsible for the costs to repair any damage that happens because of the notifiable works to the adjoining owner’s property. It really is as straightforward as that.

What Should I Do if I Think My Property Has Been Damaged?

If you think your property has been damaged by your neighbour’s construction works, then you should contact your neighbour to let them know as soon as possible and ask them to repair the damage. They could choose to do this by asking the builder to repair it, which is often more convenient with works already ongoing. If you’re not comfortable with this, you could also ask them to pay you compensation so that you can choose your own builder to do the repair.

You don’t need to appoint a surveyor to deal with this damage, at least at first. However, if you can’t agree on a way to manage the remedial works and make good the damage, this is when things can get complicated. Here, you may need to engage a party all surveyor to inspect your property and confirm whether the damage is a result of their notifiable works, and help you arrange for the repair to be carried out if appropriate. The surveyor will also be able to help you work out the amount of compensation the building owner should pay if needed.

What Happens if my Neighbour Refuses to Repair the Damage?

If a Party Wall Award has been agreed before the work starts, then you should contact the surveyors who made the Award and notify them. You can then appoint your own surveyor to deal with the claim of damage on your behalf. The surveyors will discuss and establish the cause of the damage, and then either organise for the building owner to repair it, or for them to pay you compensation. Most of the time, this resolves things.

But in some cases, the building owner will still refuse to repair the damage. It’s unfortunate, but it does happen. In these cases, the parties will need to sit down together with an independent mediator who will help them work through the dispute until both parties agree a resolution.

If mediation is unsuccessful (which is rare), then you will need to seek legal advice on whether you should take the dispute to court. This is a costly option for both parties and often very stressful, so we always recommend court action is only taken as a last resort.

My Neighbour Didn’t Serve A Party Wall Notice And They’ve Damaged My Property

If you’re the neighbour who’s received a party wall notice, we can’t stress just how important it is that you respond in writing. It’s this response that provides you with the freedom to appoint your own surveyor if disputes arise.

If your neighbour didn’t serve you with a party wall notice at all, then things are a bit different. They still have a duty to pay damages or compensation to you to repair the damage, and if they want to dispute this then it will be a costly endeavour for them. In the past, the courts have taken a pretty dim view of building owners who go ahead with work without serving notice and then go on to cause damage to the neighbour’s property. The precedent-setting case for this was Roadrunner Properties Ltd v Dean & Anor, which you can read about here, and essentially puts all of the burden onto the building owner to disprove that the damage was caused by their works, and to make good any damage they cause.

If you’re at the beginning of a dispute over property damages, or you have any questions about Party Wall notices and damages, the team at Harrison Clarke would love to help. Our friendly team of expert party wall surveyors can be reached on 023 8155 0051, so just give us a call and we’ll be happy to advise.

We also have a range of videos talking through various aspects of the Party Wall process. You can access them via our website or our YouTube channel

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Faye Williams, party wall and building surveyor at Harrison Clarke chartered surveyors.

About the author

Faye Williams,
BSc (Hons) MFPWS Senior

Surveyor & Winner of Young Property Person of the Year 2023

Faye joined Harrison Clarke in 2018. Faye found an interest in Party Wall surveying, and became a Member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors in 2022.

Since then, Faye has set out a revolutionary approach to party wall instructions, by focusing on people and relationships, backed up by expert knowledge. Faye’s approach has saved building owners £1,000s in unnecessary party wall fees.