Advice Please - Kitchen Extension / Neighbour Dispute

9 Nov 2015
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United Kingdom
Hi all,

First time poster here and in some desperate need of advice so a massive help and then hopefully thank you in advance!!

Me and my partner purchased a terraced house not too long ago. We met all the neighbours and everything was wonderful. We informed the two adjoining that obviously a lot of work was needed in the house and they were accommodating and said do not worry about any noise disturbance or anything.

Fast forward a couple of months and I informed the neighbour at the side which our kitchen is adjoining of the plans to rearrange the internal structure. I explained we would be extending slightly into what was our downstairs bathroom and he was fine with it at the time.

(I should explain that the layout of the house was a garage at the rear then a door into small corridor from there with bathroom next to that. The back door also opens into this small corridor with the bathroom then in front. Kitchen adjoining this and then through to the rest of the house. The plan is to remove the door to garage and rotate bathroom 90 degrees so now entering the back door you are in the kitchen with a door to the bathroom on the right and no corridor so as to utilise a larger kitchen. It's much harder to describe that layout than I realised!!)

The works involved removing a wall about 8 ft long with a doorway at one end (to the aforementioned small corridor which feeds the bathroom and garage). When the plasterboard came down this wall was in fact a hidden doorway and a window. We planned to insert a steel beam to carry the weight as this was a load bearing wall.

Anyway halfway through the works the neighbour came round and said we caused cracks to his ceiling. He stated he wasn't too bothered as he was planning on redecorating the kitchen shortly anyway. He also talked about not receiving a Party Wall Agreement and that he had checked online for building regulation plans and could not see any.

As this is a first home and first project I was panicked right away. I informed him that I would speak to the builder and get him to contact him. I did as I said.

A week or so later I had a knock at the door again saying as he had not heard from any of us he had gone over our heads (although he stated he didn't want to as he didn't want to fall out with us) and spoken to building control for advice however did not want it to go any further. He mentioned that he wants us to get steel calculations and he would like a copy. He also wanted to be present when the inspector was on site. This seems strange to me as surely I do not have to allow both of these requests?

This felt like a thinly veiled threat and served to panic both my partner and myself more.

I spoke to the builder again and he told me he would go round to see him. I asked regarding the building regs who informed me it was going through an approved inspector. I contacted them to ensure this and provided a few other details etc but was all legit.

After the builder had been round he told me he said he would happily put anything right that he had caused damage to however was sceptical of the minor cracks in his ceiling as they appeared to have been painted over (no cracks appeared on my ceiling!).

Heard nothing else for a number of weeks. Works have been completed. New kitchen halfway through fitting. All signed off by building control and just awaiting the final certificate.

Had another visit this weekend and he stated he still had not received any steel calculations.
I informed him that everything had gone through building control, had been signed off and that we were awaiting our final certificate. We had done everything we needed to after becoming aware.

He said that we hadn't done the party wall agreement. Also that as we had already finished the works some other sort of application to building control should have been made (we had not finished when applied for). All the time saying obviously I don't want to fall out with you over this. He said who was going to pay for the damage and that the builder had intimated it wouldn't be him but myself (which is grudgingly fine). He kept saying what if there is structural damage and large cracks down the party wall. (This is only single brick and there is no damage to our side of it).
He also mentioned that people at his work (I believe near or in building control vicinity in local government) had advised him to go straight to his solicitors ... but he didn't want to fall out with us over this! This again sounded to us like a threat and like scaremongering tactics.

I told him I would have to do some research as I wasn't sure he is entitled to our calculations as surely we have to pay for them and if he gets them surely he can do the same works without having to pay for calculations if he wanted them then. To which he said it's not for that. He can get them off Building Control if he wanted.

Anyway I have waffled on for long enough now so appreciate if you got to the end here!

In summary, I know I was in the wrong for not doing the Party Wall Agreement thing. I was maybe naive in the fact that I had not checked on building regulations application etc as it seems the builder may not have put it in first thing before the works!
Do i have to allow him a copy of the calculations?
What do i do from here regarding his 'threats' of solicitors?
If i offer to pay for the damage is that enough? Does he have to prove that we damaged it too?
If i don't do this can he make things worse for us?
We are both very nervous and panicking that we could end up having to pay great fees for surveyors and solicitors and things now.

Again thank you for any help! Its greatly appreciated!

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In the first instance re-post in the Building Regulations section, include a sketch showing the plan before the works and one showing the plan after and simplify your post rather than all that waffle. Whilst browning your underpants waiting for some replies have a read here: // there are many other such threads on the forum if you use the search.
Sorry Adam, but you did waffle horrendously, so I may not be able to give the best of replies.

Do you have legal cover on your house insurance that will deal with this - £25 well spent I can assure you.

On the basis that you're neighbours complaining about damage to his property, I assume that the steel in question has gone in to a party wall. Even so, he has no right to the steel calculations, as they only pertain to holding up the wall in your house, and have nothing to do with him. Either the builder would have done them, so ask him for a copy, or the size of the steel beam required would have been specified by the Building control officer, and having been passed by building control, this should satisfy your neighbour, so ask whim why he wants the calculations, can he understand them, and what good will they do him. Give him a copy of the completion certificate to show the works up to standard, and then leave it at that.

I've been in a similar situation when I re-roofed a block of flats I was managing, and the top floor flat tried to complain about cracks that were just badly jointed coving that had opened up. Some people are just to ignorant to know what's right and wrong. And as to you not applying for building regs at the start of the job, this is irrelevant, as you only apply when you come across a problem that needs them.

Contact the building control office that signed off the work, and see what he's got to say, they can be very helpful, and are normally very happy to give advice - just don't overload them or treat them as free solicitors.

Having looked at the advised thread on PW agreements, it seems pretty sensible advice, so really I wouldn't worry too much. But at the end of the day, the guy seems a pratt, and you're very likely going to end up not speaking to him - jee wizz, so what. I've met loads (and been one once or twice) and it's not the end of the world. If push comes to shove, most solicitor would give you a free consultation, and then a couple of hundred for a reply to put him in his place. Try a case of wine as an apology for any inconvenience, and that might smooth his ruffled feathers.

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