We had a recent case in SW London where the owner of a house appointed a contractor to lower the level of their garden.  No structural engineer was appointed to design the works and no party wall surveyor had been appointed to give the neighbours the protection of the Party Wall Act.  The property where work was being carried out is at a lower level than their neighbours’ house, but the contractor set about undermining the concrete retaining wall that separates the two gardens and supports the higher land- with catastrophic results.  The neighbours’ garden fell away and the contractor put his workpeople in danger. The photos show the neighbours’ garden and the contractor’s  attempt to prevent the collapse of the wall by wedging his mechanical digger against it! 

There is a statutory duty in the Party Wall Act to serve a notice where works such as this are involved. In this case, if notice had been served and party wall surveyors had been appointed, the surveyors would have insisted that the works were properly designed and supervised.

A party wall notice was later served to deal with making the wall safe and Alan Riley FRICS FFPWS was later appointed as party wall surveyor by the owners of the neighbouring property- but the damage had already been done!

If you are a building owner carrying out work to your property that falls within the scope of the Act or if you are an adjoining owner where your neighbour is carrying out work to their property, Alan Riley Associates can provide you with timely, economical expert advice to guide you through the requirements of the Act.For free advice, contact Alan Riley FRICS FFPWS on 020 8704 1952 or email ariley@ic24.net