Basements – Owners like them (for obvious reasons)… neighbours do not like them (for obvious reasons)

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 gives owners the rights to extend their properties and this includes basements, loft extensions and ground floor extensions.

Neighbours are rightfully fearful of grandiose schemes for enlargement next door, which might (in their opinion) be detrimental to their property. Such scenarios often lead to tension.

The Act facilitates, within reasonable boundaries, what owners wish to do and at the same time protects neighbours and their properties.

Owners must understand that while planning consents for a basement often take time, the party wall process can take as long or, in the case of difficult basement projects, even longer.

Owners planning to do ‘work’ need to:

  • Engage structural engineers to design the detail.
  • Engage a reputable contractor with the required experience [owners need to be advised by their structural engineers and architects].
  • Expect to pay significant sums of money on deposit before works begin [security for expenses].
  • Expect that there will be some damage to neighbouring properties and accept and agree that this damage, when it is caused, will be dealt with very quickly.
  • Employ recognised movement and vibration monitoring equipment to be supervised by both the Owners and the Neighbours structural engineers at the owner’s expense.

Neighbours need to:

  • Employ their own surveyor in addition to the owner’s surveyor at the owner’s expense.
  • Employ their own structural engineer [the advising engineer] at the owner’s expense.
  • Expect that a Schedule of Condition will be made for the whole of their property, not just bits of it.
  • Expect that their surveyor and engineer report regularly on all aspects of the award which is made.
  • List their concerns and communicate these with their surveyor and engineer.

The process is complicated; the process takes time.

For further information on these issues or on any other property related matter, including valuations, contact Michael Tibbatts MRICS MEWI at Scrivener Tibbatts – email: