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‘Construction workers were using my small yard space for scaffolding without permission.’

At no stage has any offer been made by the owner or the contractor to foot the expenses I have already incurred.

Samantha Geraghty, Managing Partner and Solicitor at our firm, recently featured in The Irish Times Property Clinic. You can read the original article here and or read the full article below.

I purchased a terraced house in 2023. My surveyor found no significant issues with the property prior to my purchase, and I proceeded with same. Shortly after I moved in, construction work commenced on the house next door. This involved adding a rear extension, which juts out past the houses on our row. On several occasions, construction workers from next door were using the roof outside my bedroom window to work and were using my small yard space for scaffolding. They never sought permission for this. I would come home to find scaffolding erected at the back of my kitchen.

About two months after I moved in, I noticed water had started tracking between tiles in my downstairs bathroom and had tracked in over my back door, while the wall behind my boiler
upstairs was soaking wet. A roofer I hired identified the two issues:

  • They had failed to direct a downpipe away from my house next door when they added their extension, and water was pouring down over my lower roof.
  • They had cut my upstairs gutter (without permission) to add a new gutter around their extension, and had left mine completely severed, so that water was now pouring down over the wall behind my upstairs boiler.

I contacted both the construction company and owner. They rejoined the upstairs gutter within the following week. My own roofer installed a temporary downpipe away from my property. This solved the leaks.

In December they plastered their extension and removed the downpipe my roofer had installed. They said they had to allow their plaster to dry. Two months later and the downpipe is still not attached, and water has started entering my bathroom and kitchen again.

At no stage has any offer been made by the owner or the contractor to foot the expenses I have already incurred, or the likely expenses I will encounter in trying to replaster, retile and potentially get a new boiler. I have given them time but need to know where to go next and who is liable. In addition, who is the best person to give me an estimate as to the likely cost of the repairs that I can be appropriately compensated?


Samantha Geraghty, Managing Partner & Solicitor

Samantha replied: The fact that you had no problems until your neighbours embarked upon their work would suggest they have caused the issues with your property. However, you should still retain the services of your surveyor or another qualified professional to review the work, the damage caused and get their opinion on the cause of the issues. While you can point to certain damage yourself, a surveyor may pick up on additional issues that might not be immediately obvious to the untrained eye, so it is important to obtain a report from such a professional at the outset.

If your neighbour caused the damage to your property, then they are liable for the costs of remedial works and reinstatement. While the surveyor will report on the damage caused, you may also need a quantity surveyor to give you an estimate of the costs involved in dealing with the damage. It is important that you have a clear picture of the full extent of the damage and the costs of remedial work before reaching any agreement with your neighbour.

We suggest:

  • You approach your neighbour setting out your position and inviting them to agree to cover the cost of remedial work and on the time frame for completing it.
  • If they do not agree initially, suggest mediation as a way of negotiating a solution with your neighbours without recourse to the courts.
  • If this does not work, we recommend you consult a solicitor, who may suggest sending a solicitor’s letter outlining your claim and thereafter may engage in mediation and/or litigation depending on the response received from your neighbours.

As is almost always the case, it is better to resolve the issues amicably with your neighbour and avoid court proceedings but there are cases where litigation is the only way of compelling third parties to comply with their responsibilities. Hopefully this is not one such case.

It is also important, having given your neighbours time to resolve issues, that you now act quickly. The passage of time could serve to jeopardise your claim, so it is important to act promptly and take photographs of the issues with the property as they arise. It is also important that you do not acquiesce in allowing further damage to be caused to your property.