A five-storey block is to be built beside my cottage and I fear it might damage it

Property Clinic: The developer’s surveyor should assess your property before and after construction

If there is a noticeable change or deterioration in condition to adjacent properties the developers would be responsible for any repair costs. Photograph: iStock

If there is a noticeable change or deterioration in condition to adjacent properties the developers would be responsible for any repair costs. Photograph: iStock

 

I have a property issue to deal with in the near future as follows. Permission has been granted for a five-storey apartment block to be constructed beside my house. It will be located at a distance of less than 3m from my gable wall. The block is to include a basement car park to a depth of 3.5m.

My house is a 120-year-old cottage, and is a protected structure. A basement impact assessment report was submitted for the development, and the permission granted, states that the measures outlined in it are to be implemented in full. The report includes the following: “It is recommended that condition surveys of adjacent existing structures should be carried out before and after the proposed works.”

My queries are: Does the local planning authority monitor compliance of the actual construction with the content of the approved plans?

Does it have a role in monitoring the extent of any collateral damage that may result – should I bring such events to their attention?

Should I employ my own surveyor/engineer, or alternatively rely on the developer’s before/after survey?

My basic concern is to ensure that any damage to my property, resulting from the construction work, is satisfactorily remedied.

Noel Larkin writes: In my experience there is a direct link to levels of anxiety and the distance proposed works are from one’s boundary. In your case you appear to have the perfect storm of a protected structure, a large development next door and an excavation close to and below the level of your house. The anticipation of a negative impact and potential damage to your cottage can add to the strain.

Most developers will insist on a pre-development schedule of condition of adjoining and adjacent properties and structures. This protects them and the adjoining owners. I carried out many such predevelopment surveys on the Dublin Port Tunnel project some years ago. Property owners were always surprised when I pointed out historic cracking to them. They simply had never noticed these before. Therefore it is important to record all cracks or defects before commencing work. In some cases existing cracks can have monitors called tell-tales fitted. Equally a post-development inspection is important to make sure nothing has changed. The survey should ideally be undertaken by a chartered building surveyor who specialises in this type of work. The surveyor should be appointed by the developer and I would recommend that you appoint your own surveyor to validate the findings in the condition report.

Although local authorities will monitor a percentage of developments in their area, they have no hand act or part in the process of ensuring surveys of adjacent properties are undertaken. I note that this is only a recommendation in the basement impact assessment report and you should liaise directly with the developers to ensure the inspection takes place.

It would be unusual for your property to be damaged by the adjacent works, but if there is a noticeable change or deterioration in condition then the developers would be responsible for any repair costs to your cottage.

Your own building surveyor will advise if any specialist monitoring should be carried out during the works and will also help put your mind at ease once they have assessed the developers’ proposals and reports.

Noel Larkin is a chartered building surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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