Basement dig next door - any advice?

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hopscotch99
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Basement dig next door - any advice?

Postby hopscotch99 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:01 pm

Our next door neighbours are planning a basement conversion (they are at the planning application phase). Does anyone have any advice for us in terms of precautionary steps / things to look out for on the planning application? e.g. wondering whether we are likely to suffer any side effects during the build that we should try to anticipate.

We are on good terms so don't want to be awkward or obstructive, but would be interested in any "I wish we had known that at the outset" type advice!
juliantenniscoach
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Re: Basement dig next door - any advice?

Postby juliantenniscoach » Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:47 pm

Hi

I would advise you to get your own surveyor (which they pay for). Our neighbour did that and it was in his interest when we did our side return.

Best wishes,

Julian
pie81
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Re: Basement dig next door - any advice?

Postby pie81 » Fri Jan 08, 2016 5:52 pm

Agree with julian, also take lots of "before" photos (date stamped) so you can demonstrate what has been caused by their build (hopefully nothing but just in case...!)
aguapazza
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Re: Basement dig next door - any advice?

Postby aguapazza » Sat Jan 09, 2016 11:16 am

Just be prepared for a nightmare few months of interminable noise and disruption. Your house will move, it's inevitable. Your neighbours will obviously make good all the damage but it can put a strain on relations.

Our neighbours did theirs a few years ago and it was really hard to live with the constant racket of the digging, and because the house was shaking all the time the dust was incredible! We did have large cracks in the walls of the sitting room, however they made sure that this was repaired and the room redecorated. And we

Friends have recently had their neighbours dig out a basement and the damage to their house has been incredible - every single room has cracking in the ceilings and around windows, there are cracks all along the staircase, the front door has dropped and is difficult to shut properly, the floor in the kitchen has moved and many of the tiles have cracked (the fridge now leans backwards!). It's been very, very stressful.

Just hope that your neighbours use a reputable firm - and yes, take photos before and after!
Jen66
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Re: Basement dig next door - any advice?

Postby Jen66 » Sat Jan 09, 2016 12:34 pm

I would also recommend coming to an agreement on days/hours before the building work takes place: no weekend work, no start before 8am for example.
Lillypad
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Re: Basement dig next door - any advice?

Postby Lillypad » Mon Jan 11, 2016 2:43 pm

juliantenniscoach and pie 81

Do you really understand what you are saying with your comments?

Our neighbours went for the dissent option (with our basement) and it cost us over £3000 (and nothing went wrong). It was their ignorance about the PWA (party wall agreement) that caused them to think they were getting a better service by dissenting. We now hardly speak to either of them now.


Party wall surveyors are working for the neighbour, even though the people doing the building are paying for the cost. This is the important point.

There are 3 options with PWS (all paid for by the person doing the building) :-

1- informal agreement (not really advised for a basement)

2 -the people doing the building work get a PW surveyor (probably on a fixed quote of £600-£1000) for both neighbours.

3 dissent (by maybe both) neighbours, neighbours have self chosen separate PW surveyor costing a total of £3000+ (actually it an unlimited cost, usually at over £150+vat per hour, with 10-15 hours per neighbour)

Its the worst piece of legislation that i have ever come across - so if you are thinking of dissenting, you wont have any more protection, but may never speak to your neighbours again.
pie81
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Re: Basement dig next door - any advice?

Postby pie81 » Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:55 pm

Yes I know precisely what I am saying. I realise it is a pain and expensive if the neighbours choose to use their own surveyor but if my neighbours were doing a dig out I would not be happy to rely on their chosen surveyor.

Yes in theory a joint surveyor should work impartially for both parties but who is to say the chosen surveyor is completely honest/impartial (sorry to all those who are, but I'm sure they vary like any profession) and ultimately it is the people building who are paying them.

I will amend my advice: I would be happy to use a joint surveyor, but ONLY IF it was a surveyor that I had chosen myself (not one chosen by the people doing the building work).

You really don't speak to your neighbours because they chose to exercise their legal right to have their own surveyor? I appreciate it cost you £3000, but how much did the building project cost overall, I imagine a huge multiple of that? I agree the legislation is not great but in the face of some of the horror stories about dig outs and the effect on neighbours you can hardly blame someone for trying to protect themselves in a perfectly legal way. (Or perhaps in your case, you can... :| )
hopscotch99
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Re: Basement dig next door - any advice?

Postby hopscotch99 » Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:07 pm

Thanks for the comments (sorry for delayed response, I hadn't realised you had all posted).

The company they are employing have done quite a few basement digs in our area so I hope they are reputable.

Your comments on the party wall surveyor are helpful - I would be interested in any recommendations for surveyors people have used in the past and would rate (especially if you have had to rely on their work due to damage caused by the build etc).
MGMidget
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Re: Basement dig next door - any advice?

Postby MGMidget » Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:09 pm

I would agree with Julian and have a separate surveyor. The reason for this is that if damage occurs (and it seems from some of the comments that is inevitable with a basement) you then have a 'dispute'. Having recently been in this situation with a neighbour (not over a basement though but a different extension) we regretted having a joint surveyor and I think our neighbours did too. This was because once an actual dispute arises and needs to be settled through the party wall process the joint surveyor has to act like a 'third surveyor' and therefore cannot communicate with the parties or give any advice. I think you would be more likely to get some advice on your situation (and perhaps reassurance when needed) if you had your own surveyor. Given the overall cost of a basement, the cost of the party wall surveyors is a relatively small amount so your neighbours shouldn't stop speaking to you because of this if they are reasonable!

In the past we did some relatively minor work (knocking out a wall and putting in a steel beam) and had a neighbour insist on two separate surveyors. The party wall surveyors cost nearly as much again as the cost of the wall removal and structural design but we still spoke to our neighbours afterwards!