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Boundaries

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by OddsBodkin, 17 Sep 2021.

  1. OddsBodkin

    OddsBodkin

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    I've been pondering this for a while and i thought to ask the forum whether my neighbours driveway has been built up against the gable end of our house legally?
    It wasn't done by the current neighbours but the one before, who insisted on digging out the garden there and laying a tarmac drive right up to the wall.
    That was over 30 years ago.
    Over he years i've noticed damp spread across our living room wall, and i had to build up our dividing wall outside to prevent water running down their drive to pool beside our wall, where an airbrick became clogged with leaves and standing water.
    I was in conversation with a tradie yesterday who mentioned they may have to make good the damage caused by the drive which shouldn't have been laid there at all.
    Do i have a case? And what, if anything, can i do about it?
    Pictues enclosed to give an idea of the situation.

    IMGP5319.JPG IMGP5320.JPG IMGP5322.JPG IMGP5323.JPG

    The line of moss is roughly where a gap runs right along the wall and is considered the boundary line on our deeds.
    The second shows how far up the wall their drive is built.
    The third shows the drop down to our level from their side and the last pic shows how far that drop is to a better extent, where the wall was built up and how much of our house has been covered by their driveway.
     
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  3. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    You need to determine where your DPC is. You may be able to see it at the front or the rear and follow where it ought to be, along that side. The tarmac should be below that level and there should be no means for water to build up close to it.

    If what a neighbour has done, is detrimentally affecting your property, then have a right to redress.

    Where is the actual boundary shown on your deeds? Is it a shared drive?
     
  4. OddsBodkin

    OddsBodkin

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    I'm not sure about the level of the DPC: would it be just below an airbrick?
    The level of our airbrick is about a meter below their driveway - Two years ago i had the cable guy put a new line to our tv through the old fireplace. Initially he tried to drill the hole for cable an inch above the skirting board but all he hit was clay.
    The outlet had to be drilled at the top of the fireplace allowing the cable to run from the dish to a point about a meter above their drive. I estimate their driveway is about half a meter to a meter above the base line of brick around the house.

    The deeds show our boundary line runs right along the gable end - if you look at the first pic you can see a bush growing beside a concrete border that runs up as a support for their steps and bit of garden. That concrete line had broken so i replaced it, digging back the soil from the side of the house, laying plastic liner, then a layer of cement on top. Crude, but i hope effective. It leaves a channel of about 3 or four inches between our wall and their garden, but doesn't run straight.
    The depth of that channel is about 6 inches and appears to be holding firm, for now.
    That area of driveway used to be a garden and was much lower, but the previous neighbour just persisted with a plan that took no consideration of our house or garden. We do not share it, but my neighbour allows me access for maintenance.
    I need to be sure about this as i don't want to start a border war for no good reason.
     
  5. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    You really need to work out where that DPC is and follow it to where that tarmac was laid. Look for a joint between the bricks, which has a black material DPC poking out

    What sort of floor do you have under the ground floor? Is it a concrete or a suspended wood floor?

    Drilling through the wall at skirting level and hitting clay, is a bad sign in that the DPC is below soil level. On a solid floor, the DPC level will often be just behind the skirting, so there should be no plaster behind the lower part of the skirting to bridge the DPC, plus any soil etc. on the outside should also be well below that DPC.

    Was the hole drilled in the same wall where the drive has been laid?
     
  6. OddsBodkin

    OddsBodkin

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    It will be very difficult to follow a line of any sort since the ground is so built up but i'm not certain any kind of DPC is in place at all. The house was built in the 30s and no changes at all were made until we arrived. (It was a rented property.) The area in our living room has always been subjected to damp - not helped, to be sure, by the parquet layed over a concrete floor.
    For arguments sake, lets assume a DPC was laid under that cement...about fifty years ago. I still don't think any kind of DPC could be found up to the point where their tarmac was laid. There is no joint between any bricks.
    In the fourth picture the level our house sits on has a row of ceramic tiles up to the wall: no idea why. But that suggests to me the original level is just below the airbrick i see there - when i get chance i'll take a pic of that wall to show better what i mean.
    The hole drilled through the back of our fireplace is just at the top of their driveway; just below the first step up to the front door. If you loook closely at the first pic you can just see a black line of cable running down the wall. Look where it ends and that corresponds with the top of our fireplace in the living room. A closer pic will make that clearer and again, i'll do that when i have time. I'm up to my wrists in cleaning the walls down inside. The amount of dirt coming off would make Mrs Mopp very angry, indeed.
     
  7. Dereekoo

    Dereekoo

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    And assuming the drive is above the DPC does he have a case for redress ( which was the original OP question)
     
  8. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    Definitely, if it is above the DPC.

    But the OP needs to establish first whether or not it is. Pointless him persuing his neighbour, to end up with a red face if he is wrong. Obviously, there is no immediate urgency, if it has been like that for years.
     
  9. Alastairreid

    Alastairreid

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    If it is historical..30yrs! And done by previous occupants of the property how can you lay claim against them? And why would this not have been picked up in a survey during conveyancing.
     
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  11. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    It depends upon the type of survey, what you would expect to be picked up, though it reads as if the OP has lived there for perhaps 30+ years.
     
  12. Alastairreid

    Alastairreid

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    Op, a pic taken further back would help, how many steps do you have to front door.
     
  13. OddsBodkin

    OddsBodkin

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    It's my mothers house and i'm helping her sort out the many and varied problems that have been left to fester, and yes, she's lived there for well over 30 years.
    I've taken more measurements and pics for a closer perspective:

    IMGP5324.JPG IMGP5326.JPG IMGP5327.JPG IMGP5325.JPG

    The first shows the interior of the fireplace where the cable runs in and from that point to the floor is 96cm. (The top of the fireplace to the floor is 98cm.)
    The second shows the exterior where the cable emerges and the distance between that point and the drive is 46cm: so it is 50cm beneath the level of the drive.
    The third shows how high their steps rise to the level of their house, looking down into the gap between the concrete wall and our house, which is about 7/8cm wide and the same deep.
    The fourth shows the level of the front of the house where the tiles meet the wall and the drop there is 60cm.

    I know this should've been done a long time ago but the prior owner of next door was a real mouthbreeder who simply ignored everything beyond the end of his own nose and the matter has been allowed to fester.
    Should i consider further surveyance or simply regard this as an intellectual excercise with no practical solution?
     
  14. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    If photo 1 is at the other side of photo2 (that cable is the same cable) and further assuming they have a similar perspective, then it certainly looks like the drive has been installed way above the DPC level. Your measurements seem to also confirm it too. The fact is, the neighbour should never had been allowed to get away with it in the first place - either the steps or the drive level.

    The way forward now, is to find a surveyor who has some expertise in land levels and DPC, have them look at the problem and write a letter explaining what needs to be done to resolve it. No you should absolutely not treat it as an 'intellectual excercise'. On the face of it - your neighbours actions 30+ years ago have been damaging your property for all of that time. The fact that they have got away with it for 30+ years and ownership has changed - makes absolutely no difference. The problem is devaluing your mother's property and certainly needs to be resolved.

    Armed with the letter, you then need to discuss it with the present neighbour - unfortunate for that neighbour, by that neighbour will be responsible for all of the costs involved in rectifying all of the the steps and the drive level issues.
     
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  15. OddsBodkin

    OddsBodkin

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    The first two photos in my last post are two sides of the same coin, and it seems a surveyor as you describe would better understand what i can do about it. Expensive people to deal with. I considered hiring one to establish the fenceline at the top of our garden and was quoted £350, so i'll assume this won't be any cheaper.
    Maybe i'll just throw it all in the mix and see what happens when the boundary line is firmly established.
    Thanks for all your input.
     
  16. cdbe

    cdbe

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    I'm no lawyer, so can't comment on whether you can prove any liability for something allegedly done 30 years ago, by someone else and which you have not said anything about in those intervening 30 years.

    I guess it would be something to be dealt with by the respective house insurers rather that you as individuals hiring surveyors and what, arguing it yourself in court, hiring a team of barristers?, hopefully you have some nice evidential photos of the "before" situation (clearly showing the external ground level at least 150mm below the DPC/internal floor level)?

    I don't know how long these things take to get sorted out (maybe years?) but I would expect that once the wheels are in motion the house will be unsellable until it's resolved.

    If you can't face all that, concentrate on internal tanking (highly effective if done properly), seperate that stone wall from your house, and (in informal discussion with/perhaps at a shared cost) install a French drain down the side (a deep, narrow trough filled with stones). If you don't want to "go legal" then you need something that will satisfy future buyers of your house - a decent looking french drain combined with no evidence of internal damp would probably do the trick.

    As for establishing the boundary, you could be in for a world of trouble with this before you even get to who's causing the damp. Mine is a 1930's house and the boundary line on the deeds is a smudgy black line which if scaled up is probably about a foot wide, the measurements are some old fashioned nonsense: 9 yards, half a stride, and a piece of string! When my neighbour and I compared our deeds and did some accurate measuring between our houses they were (not literally) miles out!

    Good luck.
     
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  17. OddsBodkin

    OddsBodkin

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    I discussed a course of damp proofing with a rep from a creditable firm last year and even though it would be expensive, and very very messy, it would provide a barrier against the persistent damp that was there even before the driveway was built.
    I'd never heard of the term 'French drain' before today but a gully had been dug and filled with stones before next door was even built; evidence for this is clear further up where the drive ends and a patch of garden begins.
    I know exactly what you mean about old title deeds: ours is written in Gothic script and is practically unreadable without a monocle and a pipe. :D It shows a thick black line running along the gable end and where the fence post has been attached to an outhouse i take that to be the line of demarcation, so maybe 3", perhaps 4" from the house.
    As you say, however, tying everyone up in knots with legal red tape would take a great deal of time and money - and without any photographic evidence, only a scrambled memory, of what next doors garden used to be it will be hard to prove a good case for so much disruption.
    Thanks for your pov.
     
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