We have recently had a loft conversion and re-tiled our roof. Having completed the work our neighbors have complained to us over some issues regarding the re-tiling on their side of the roof, which was necessary to insert a draining board as required under building regs. Our builder made some adjustments to the roof but they are still unhappy. He says that everything has been completed to a good standard and that their complaints are unjustified. A certificate of completion on the work has been issued. Although we told our neighbors about the building work in advance, and have complied with any requests by them during the work, we now realize that we did not comply with the party wall act (two months written notice etc) and they have now brought this point up. Our feeling is that they might take us to court (common law).
The specific issues are:
1. Tiles have been repositioned incorrectly at the junction on the front and back of the roof and are not flush with the rest of their roof (due to insertion of the draining board)
2. The new ridge tiles have left too much concrete exposed
They also claim that they were not asked permission by the builders to work on their side of the roof. They are not prepared to discuss matters with our builder. Our builder has Insurance.
I guess we need to know: who decides whether damage has been done? If so who is liable (the builder or us) and are there any other claims they can make against us?
Please can you advise the best way forward.
Hello. i am a solicitor with over 15 years experience. I will try to help you with this.
Can you just confirm how recently was the work dine and when did the neighbours 1st complain? Also do you accept the complaints set out at points 1 and 2 as being accurate? Are the complaints purely about how the roof now looks or are they alleging that the roof is no longer watertight? Do you have insurance that covers this?
Hi J, thanks for your reply. Their initial complaint was in late April (21st) when the building work was almost complete. There was a problem with the new gutter which was leaking but our builder fixed this asap (25th April) and it is no longer a problem. He also made adjustments to point 2 but they are still not happy about the result. The scaffolding has come down now and the work has been signed off re building regs. The neighbours remaining issues (1 and 2) are aesthetic rather than structural (there are no leaks), but they say they are not happy with the standard of the work on their side. Part of the problem is that their tiles were dirty and moss covered and our builder cleaned the moss off when he relayed them, so it is clear that work has been done. However the builder insists that it is a good job and carried out as it should have been. From my point of view, I don't see a problem at all with point 2. Point 1 i think is just because of the contrast between the cleaned and dirty tiles.
We do have building insurance but I'm at work now and can't check the details
one additional point - the neighbors allowed us to put scaffolding up in their garden during the build. But now claim that they never gave permission for this. They are also claiming the the situation is causing the stress and worry regarding potential weather damage!?
Thankyou for that. I will be busy for the next few hours but will answer you later today.
Dear J, sorry for this rating but I was expecting an answer yesterday as you indicated in your post. I appreciate that you may be very busy. If you are not able to provide an answer please could you make make my question available to other solicitors. Thanks very much Russ
You should obviously have served party wall notices an gone through the correct procedure. However, as far as what you neighbours can do about this. They would need to be able to demonstrate that they have suffered harm which can be compensated in damages. There is no risk here that they can demand that yu ndo the work (in some party wall disputes involving structures encroaching onto neighbouring land whole structures can be demolished). You seem confident the work was done in a workman like manner and that point 2 is trivial (presumably the visual difference in exposed concrete is very small if anything at all). I would expect that the roof will blend together as it were over time. So the harm suffered by your neighbour is trivial. The only way they could try to claim compensation would be in the small claims court and I doubt it is really worth their effort to do so.
As for the scaffolding point. If they didn't object to the scaffolding at the time it will be difficult for them to show that they didn't give you permission. If the builder put up the the scaffold and then used it for several days and they didn't stop him then it will be very hard to say they didn't either consent before or by allowing it gave consent at the time. They seem not be alleging any harm caused by the scaffolding itself.
As far as who is liable for the "harm" it will be you if the builder has carried out your instructions properly and to the extent he deviated from/failed to match your instructions it will be the builder. However, the harm suffered by your neighbours is trivial and it is unlikely to lead to a claim.
I hope I have answered your question here but please feel free to ask further questions.
I am sorry for the delay but I had a bit of an issue with my daughter last night which drove everything else from my mind.
Dear J thank you very much for your answer - it's really helpful! Just one additional question - supposing our neighbour gets their own builder in to make changes to their side of the roof claiming that they needed to "repair damage" and then sends us the bill? Under these circumstances would they need to demonstrate that we/or our builder had caused actual damage for this claim to be valid e.g. via their builder or a surveyor?
They would need to demonstrate a need to do the work. If they were saying it was necessary to repair damage they would need to evidence damage. If it was just to improve the look (by a very small amount) then I think to try ans pass the charges on to you would be disproportionate.
Thanks very much! Best wishes Russ
Thanks for your clear response