Effect of neighbour tanking a party wall for damp?

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by jonifan, Jul 3, 2009.

  1. jonifan

    jonifan New Member

    I'm hoping someone can give me some advice. I live in a Victorian terraced house, in the basement flat, which adjoins the neighbouring property which also has a basement flat.

    Along the adjoining wall, there is a damp problem. On our side it hasn't been too bad, with damp rising only in a couple of areas, and only by a couple of feet. Apparently, the neighbouring basement flat which we adjoin along the same wall have had a far worse problem. We thought we had found the solution to our problem, cracked exterior rendering, which we are now having fixed.

    However, the neighbours have just had their flat tanked along the party wall, and apparently layers of concrete render applied to the internal wall. (these are the only details that i've been given of the work).

    I'm now slightly concerned about the effect this will have on our damp problem. Will the moisture be pushed more over to our side? What effect will this tanking have to our property?

    They didn't notify us as per the Party Wall Act, which is annoying, as we could have worked jointly. I suppose if there is a bad effect, we can claim against them?

    Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. devils advocate

    devils advocate New Member

    Hi jonifan.

    Very disappointing the neighb didn't contact you first for a combined - surely more effective - solution.

    First, if this is an internal wall separating your two flats, where is the 'exterior render' you feel might have been allowing the moisture in? I don't understand that bit, unless the damp is localised to where this wall joins the exterior front/back walls?

    Will his 'remedy' it make your situation worse? Very possibly, for, as you clearly suspect, the moisture now only has one path to follow - yours. As far as I can see, your neighb has tried to cure the symptom, not the underlying cause, which is a shame.

    Can you claim against him? Possibly, but it'll rely on a number of issues. If what he's done ISN'T considered by an 'expert' to have been the 'correct' solution for the problem. Ie: all it's doing is simply isolating him from the problem rather than fixing it, AND the consequences are also directly causing further damage to YOUR property (I think a good analogy could be if a neighb dug a ditch to direct water away from his house and this ditch then led directly to your house causing YOU greater problems...!) then I THINK you'd have a valid claim, but you really don't want to go down this route if at all possible.

    If, however, an 'expert' were to say that your neighb's 'solution' was actually fair enough, and you should just do the same, then - no claim.

    As far as I know.
  3. jonifan

    jonifan New Member

    Hi - thanks very much for your answer.

    Yes, the room where we had the damp has a rear external wall and then one side is the adjoining wall. The render on the rear external wall was blown, and we're having it re-done. We hoped that would be our (relatively small) damp problem over with.

    So you think I might be right and the moisture from that adjoining wall will now come through to my side? I was wondering why they had a worse damp problem than us on the same wall anyway? Might they be slightly lower than us, so the moisture is naturally moving their way?

    It's annoying that it's now a 'suck it and see' situation, in these dry months! The work was actually done by a council contractor, in case that makes a difference in me making a claim against them...
  4. Captain Leaky

    Captain Leaky New Member

    Stop flapping and moaning! If there is damp there get it sorted!

    End of story.
  5. G Brown

    G Brown New Member


    FIX IT.
  6. devils advocate

    devils advocate New Member

    Jonifan, I dunno.

    Unless the damp is located very close to the exterior wall in question, then I doubt that's where it was coming from. More likely it is yer usual 'rising' damp. Where EXACTLY is the damp showing?

    Are you sure the council didn't also inject some kind of dpc? Mind you, a party wall agreement (or consultation at least) should surely have been sought.

    Anyways, clearly YOU have a damp problem regardless of whether your neigh also has, so it needs to be sorted. I doubt you'll get very far trying to make a case against t'other half. You have a problem - full stop. How on earth are you ever going to 'prove' that they made it worse? Forget it.

    I can also see that the council wouldn't have considered trying to arrange a two-pronged attack with you - they only have their own properties to consider.
  7. mudhut

    mudhut New Member

    did you just mean a council approved contractor doing work in a private dwelling? if so the onus is on the owner to give you notification and seek your approval under the party wall act - not the contractors. clearly this is a party wal issue, but check the online party wall guide to verify. probably the correct work should include an injected dpc as has been said - again a party wall act issue. if you get on fairly well with your neighbours then bring the issue up with them, tactfully! and query their lack of p/w/a notification and check what surveys and professional advice they have had. otherwise collar the contractor and ask the same questions.

    don`t panic though, just because they are having this work done does not necessarily mean you will have increased damp trouble. i do think though that it is reasonable to approach them with your questions.
  8. mudhut

    mudhut New Member

  9. jonifan

    jonifan New Member

    Thanks for your help mudhut.

    To those with less helpful responses - we literally have people in this week sorting out the back wall render, which as I said, we were fairly sure was causing our problem. (You could see the route the water was taking).

    I don't think by wondering whether the next door neighbours treating the party wall was going to have an effect on our property was whining and moaning? I have absolutely no idea about how this stuff works, which was why I came to ask the opinion of the professionals. We thought we'd solved our problem, potentially only to have a new one created. And when people are trying to make a buck, it's hard to know what the truth of the problem is. I don't have the know-how or a couple of thousand lying around to throw at the problem.

    Anyway, thanks to those that helped.
  10. house and home

    house and home New Member

    sounds like your more interested in "claiming" off of your neighbour than sorting out the problem, he has sorted "his" problem out by paying for someone to tank his basement out, after you say he had a very much worse problem than you did!....now you are asking if you can legally "sue his pants off" in case yours gets any more damp......how would you feel if the boot was on the other foot!.....if he came round and said....."my basement is really damp! and I know yours isnt but would you mind going halves on a solution to cure it?.....I can almost guarantee your answer would be "no...I dont see why I should cough up for a problem that isnt there for me!!!!".....your correct in saying he "should" have at least notified you but, dont try and get some money out of him for a problem that he has sorted!
  11. Mr GrimNasty

    Mr GrimNasty Active Member

    I would say it is 'quite possible' that tanking would cause damp to find a different route - i.e. make your wall worse.

    Anyway, damp-proofing works to a party wall comes under the Party Wall Act and they should have issued you with a notice and you should have a surveyor working to answer these sorts of questions/protect your interests.
  12. Mr GrimNasty

    Mr GrimNasty Active Member

    Sadly the PWA cannot be applied in retrospect, but the courts will be more inclined to rule in your favour as the PWA was not followed.

    The only way to protect your interests is to put your neighbours 'on notice', e.g. a letter from a solicitor stating the events and your concerns. And you will have to pay for a damp survey immediately from a qualified professional so that any deterioration can be accurately assessed and demonstrated to the courts.

    Your insurance company may have an interest and you may be able to use the legal cover element to meet some of your costs.
  13. imran_

    imran_ New Member

    Lots of ambulance chasers will take your case, probably on a no-win no-fee basis. If they haven't issued notice as per PWA then it's done and dusted as far as I know - you will win any reasonable compensation by establishing that their actions on the party wall have been detrimental to your property.

    It is obvious to a layperson that a damp issue on a party wall will have impact on both parties, and therefore the work should have been agreed and coordinated.

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