Our neighbor’s non-compliant extension makes our wall damp

I hope you’ll be able to advise us on the best course of action in relation to the damp wall in a property we recently purchased. The wall was identified as damp by our investigator, but rather than the rising damp it is restricted to a specific part of the wall in the hall and the cause was identified as a neighbor’s extension which is lower than the standards and causes water/moisture infiltration to this wall in our house.

With precipitation, humidity is important and must be dealt with as soon as possible. Can you advise on how we might approach our neighbor (they are tenants, so it would be the landlord we need to contact) and what would be our best course of action in this situation? We are already planning an inspection of the extension, with authorization.

Andrew O’Gorman writing : Ongoing problems with moisture ingress into properties will cause considerable deterioration, possible wood decay and degradation of finishes. It is a requirement of building regulations that properties should be designed and constructed in such a way as to prevent such ingress of moisture.

Based on the information in your question, your neighbor is negligent in allowing this issue to arise and directly affect your property due to their “substandard” construction methods.

The moisture problem needs to be addressed urgently and I recommend the following course of action:

– Although your surveyor has identified the probable source, you must be certain that the humidity problem actually comes from your neighbor’s property; it would be embarrassing if it turned out to be from another source.

– Contact the owner of the property and inform them of the current problems. Ask your surveyor if it’s okay for you to share their report with the owner.

– Meet the owner at the property. I recommend having your surveyor present to discuss the issues.

– Politely ask the owner to fix the problem. You can also take it a step further and ask them to confirm the level of repairs they offer to perform, although this information may not be available. I recommend that you hire your surveyor to maintain professional oversight over repairs.

If, on the other hand, the owner is not ready to engage with you and ignores your request to carry out repairs, I recommend that you inform him in writing of the problems. It is important to keep records in these situations.

If the owner refuses to repair the defect, it may be worth exploring the possibility of contributing to the repair of the defect. This may encourage your neighbor to undertake the work. However, this is not the ideal solution, but you may not have any other alternative.

If all lines of communication fail with the landlord, you may need to consult a lawyer to compel them to make the necessary repairs.

I hope the owner does the right thing when informed and immediately engages with you so the issue can be resolved quickly.

Andrew O’Gorman is a Chartered Building Surveyor and Fellow of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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