Sunday, 13 November 2011

Building over the boundary

A development in Worcester was hemmed in by surrounding properties.  For maximum return, the development was taken to the very edge of the legal boundaries.  To prevent dispute, the foundations were designed not to cross the boundaries into the land of those neighbouring owners who were opposed to the development.  This created difficulties in construction. 

The site team did not appreciate the significance of this aspect of the design, particularly as the legal boundaries were to them nought but invisible concepts passing though muddy excavations. In constructing a basement, the builder ran the bottom layer of concrete wide of the site boundaries.

The tanking was to be in asphalt and a non-traditional detail had been designed to avoid a toe of concrete and asphalt projecting over the boundary.  The asphalter, seeing the projecting concrete, reverted to familiar tradition and ignored the drawings.  
The resident clerk of works, more familiar with traditional building than with property law, was unaware of the potential consequences and took no action.
The fault was discovered by the architect during a routine visit after it was well advanced.  Technically there was nothing wrong with the work other than its projection into land owned by others. 
However well built, the cellar could not be allowed to continue its trespass.  Over two weeks were lost in cutting out the erroneous work and making good just because those on site did not properly appreciate the wider legal implications of departing from the drawn detail.

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