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Our builders have cut into neighbours roof batten

Postby scoggy » Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:10 pm

I've found information on this forum enlightening, but haven't been able to find anything about my specific problem. Apologies for starting a new topic if this has been covered elsewhere. And apologies for the long post!

We're having a loft conversion with a dormer on our semi-detached 1930s house. All the exterior work is finished.

Our neighbour (usually reasonable, and who signed a party wall agreement) has had several issues with the effect on his roof and has been rude to our workmen several times about perceived encroachments onto his property. The firm doing our conversion have been working to placate him, and have so far managed to convince him that on various issues either there's been no damage or, where there were broken tiles, they'd make it good.

Now it seems however he may have a genuine complaint, and he's complaining that all the stress is affecting his and his wife's health.

There's a small bump in the tiles just over his side of the boundary in a line going up the roof. The builders said they'd get someone round to sort it out, and the tiler came at the weekend.

The tiler told my neighbour that the people who did the roof had replaced our battens with battens that are higher than the old ones, and had replaced the battens a foot or so over his side of the boundary (hence the bump where a higher batten meets a lower one).

Our builder says this was necessary as building regs say they now need higher battens, and they had to go all the way to the next rafter. He also says he has photos showing there was a bump there before (due to poor tiles or degraded battens, I forget which).

It sounds to me like my neighbour has a legitimate complaint, as our builders have cut into his property. He says his wife and he have been stressed about their roof for months and are having trouble sleeping.

I've tried to assure him that we'll get it sorted. He wants it sorted as soon as possible and is getting very frantic with us. He's getting pretty rude, but I have sympathy since he's obviously very upset. The builders have told us (and him) it's waterproof and wind proof, so there's no immediate issue while we look to get it sorted, but he's insistent that this is urgent. I've tried to reason with him, but it's hard to reason with someone who's not being reasonable and is clearly upset.

We've found today the solution would be to put smaller battens in, going back to our new dormer, but this would require building reg approval. The roofer needs to write a report to kick this process off. ie it's not going to be quick.

It's getting to the stage where I'm going to have to ask my neighbour not to speak to my wife about this as he tends to explode at her in front of our kids. I didn't want it to get to this stage and would really like to find a way to calm him down and give him what he wants.

However, I can't find a way to calm him down, so thought I'd better look into the legal side of this, both to ensure I can tell if he's being reasonable and where we stand in pushing the builders to do more.

Can anyone confirm whether our builders had any right to cut and replace the batten over his side of the boundary? I'm guessing not.
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Postby stoneyboy » Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:46 pm

Can anyone confirm whether our builders had any right to cut and replace the batten over his side of the boundary? NO not without your neighbours agreement.
Your builder is correct in that battens now have to be larger to comply with BRegs so somewhere there will always be a change in the levels of the tiles over the width of the roof.
Unfortunately some tradesmen are not the most politic of people and they will go out of their way wind up anyone objecting to their activities.
You clearly need to placate your neighbours - how about offering to pay for a roofer of their choice to correct the problem on their side of the roof.
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Postby scoggy » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:57 am

Thanks stoneyboy. I'm hoping it won't come to that and we can get our builders to resolve the issue. They maintain the party wall agreement means they had the right to cut into his battens since they are shared between us.

However, they understand he's not happy and believe they can get word from the building regs people within the week. If they can they're going to use smaller battens to get rid of the bump.

I'm hoping this will be resolved soon. Once it is the neighbours will be getting some wine and flowers from us to apologise for their stress. Just a token, I know.
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