Four things to consider to avoid basements litigation

The explosive growth in the construction of basements in London has given rise to a corresponding increase in litigation as adjoining owners seek to protect their properties and to curb the extent of the building owners’ works.

There is a recent case in West London in relation to basement foundations, Chaturachinda v Fairholme, which is worth bearing in mind if you are considering a basement extension.

The works concerned the excavation for and the construction of a new basement and the erection of a back extension.

In this case the adjoining owners were unable to control their neighbour’s works because they were not considered ‘special foundations’. This was because the works proposed involved a reinforced concrete box underneath the adjoining property which did not affect the existing foundations.

The practical response, as in this case, may be that building owners will propose alternatives schemes, one ‘outside’ the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 which does not require consent and one ‘inside’ the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

The full case of Chaturachinda v Fairholme can be found here.

If you are considering a basement excavation, here are a few issues you will need to consider:

  • Planning permission: you will need planning permission from your local authority to extend into your basement.
  • Chartered Party Wall Surveyor: you will need to undertake a party wall assessment and serve party wall notices.
  • Architect and Structural Engineer: a good architect and engineer who are experienced in this type of work.
  • Main Contractor: a competent contractor with suitable experience and contractor’s insurance.

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