Protecting adjoining properties
An owner who is proposing building work has obligations under the Building Act 1993 (the Act) to protect adjoining property from potential damage from their building work.
If your building work is close to or adjacent to adjoining property boundaries, then you may be required to carry out protection work relating to the adjoining property. This is to ensure that the adjoining property is not affected or damaged by your building work.
Adjoining property is considered to be land at risk of significant damage from building work and may include any street, highway, lane, footpath, square, alley and right of way.
When making an application for a building permit for the proposed building work, the applicant (the building owner or agent of owner) is required to provide detailed information about the building work to the relevant building surveyor. The building surveyor will then determine if protection work is required.
Protection work provides protection to adjoining property from damage. Protection work may include:
- underpinning of footings, including vertical support, lateral support, protection against variation in earth pressures, ground anchors, and other means of support for the adjoining property
- shoring up and overhead protection
- other work designed to maintain the stability of adjoining property from damage from building work.
Obligations if protection work is required
Serve a Protection Work Notice on an adjoining owner
If you are required to carry out protection work, you must serve a notice on the adjoining owner and provide details about the proposed protection work. A building permit may not be issued until the protection work process has been completed to the approval of the building surveyor.
The adjoining owner must respond to the notice within 14 days of the notice being served. They can agree or disagree to the proposed protection work or request further information to be provided.
An adjoining owner who fails to respond to the notice within the required time is deemed to have agreed to the proposed protection work.
If the adjoining owner agrees or is deemed to have agreed to the proposed protection work, and if the building surveyor has evaluated the protection work, then your builder may proceed to carry out the protection work after obtaining any necessary permits, approvals or insurance.
If the adjoining owner disagrees with the proposed protection work or requests further information, your building surveyor must examine the proposal for protection work and determine whether the protection work is appropriate.
The building surveyor must give the owner and adjoining owner notice in writing of the determination. A property owner or the adjoining owner may appeal within 14 days to the Building Appeals Board (BAB) against the determination.
Have a contract of insurance
As the owner having building work done, you must ensure that a contract of insurance is in force against potential damage caused by the proposed protection work to the adjoining property.
The insurance policy must protect the adjoining property, occupiers and the general public during the works for a period of 12 months following completion of the work.
Note: a standard Construction and Public Liability policy will not normally provide the minimum cover required.
The contract for insurance must cover an amount agreed between the owner and adjoining owner. A copy of the insurance policy must be provided to the adjoining owner before building work starts.
Prepare a survey of adjoining property
A survey of the adjoining property must be prepared by the owner with the adjoining owner. The survey should record of all existing cracks and defects. This record must be signed or acknowledged as an agreed record of the condition of the adjoining property before the protection work begins.
Disputes about insurance cover or the adequacy of the survey can be referred to the BAB for a resolution.
A property owner is required by law to pay expenses incurred by the adjoining owner in protecting their interests. These costs include:
- specialists' fees to check protection work documentation
- expenses relating to the actual on-site supervision of protection work once it begins