No party wall notice was served for neighbouring works. Can we claim compensation?

We own an end-of-terrace cottage. The adjoining property is owned by Winchester City Council and they have appointed a contractor to refurbish it. For four days we have endured horrendous noise from the use of jackhammers. The job is expected to last 16 weeks.

We were under the impression that the local authority should have served a notice under the Party Wall Act with precise details of the planned works. No such notice was forthcoming.

My wife is currently undergoing a course of chemotherapy — fatigue together with disrupted sleep is a side effect of the treatment. This means she needs to sleep during the day — not possible due to the hammering from next door.

If we had been informed about the proposed works we could at least have made arrangements for my wife to stay elsewhere so she could get some peace. Do we have recourse to claim compensation from the local authority as a result of the impact this is having on our wellbeing?Barrie Hammond, Winchester

First, I apologise on behalf of the construction industry for the disregard for your wellbeing at what must be a difficult time. As a common courtesy anyone carrying out building works should engage with the community beforehand, but, from my experience of local authorities, they often feel they are exempt from such obligations.


Such an attitude is wrong: the Party Wall Act is clear that if work on an existing party wall falls within the act — as it sounds like it does in your case — then you must notify all adjoining owners. Unfortunately no enforcement procedures exist for failure to serve a notice. However, if the council starts work without notice then you, as the adjoining owner, may seek to stop the works through a court injunction or seek other legal redress.

My advice: write to the authority and explain your position, referring to the act and your personal circumstances. Ask them to serve a notice and to stop works while you make alternative arrangements. You can write this letter yourself or ask a solicitor to help you.

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With regards to compensation for being subject to nuisance, the good news is that under English law the local authority would be obliged to pay. There are two routes to such an outcome: applying through the courts, or (and my best advice would be) avoid litigation and seek a settlement with the council.Bill Barton, director at the construction law specialists Barton Legal

Winchester city council responds: We are aware that this work caused disruption and have apologised to the Hammonds. The council has made every effort to lessen the impact on them.


I live in a block of flats in London with hard water. As an alternative to water softeners that reduce limescale with salts, do magnets or electric devices attached to pipes work? They sound ideal because they require no maintenance or complicated plumbing.Stephen Dunkin

If you live in a hard water area, taking steps to soften water flowing through water-based appliances is a good idea.Scale build-up will reduce the lifespan of your appliances. Typically water softeners would be recommended.

We wouldn’t recommend an electro-magnetic device over a water softener based on it being cheaper to run. However, water softeners take up space that might not be available in smaller properties.

If a water softener isn’t a viable option, an electro-magnetic device could be considered, or a magnet, but we’re not aware of any studies that have shown their effectiveness.Spokesman for Aspect Property Maintenance,


I have a basic split magnet clamped around our incoming mains water pipe, but I don’t think it makes any difference at all. It came from B&Q’s bargain bin years ago and I thought it worth trying.

We have fairly hard water, and I still have to descale the shower heads and kettle fairly regularly. If the magnet worked I shouldn’t need to.

The theory is they change the shape of the limescale particles to stop them sticking together, but that smacks of snake oil to me. Some people swear by them, but my experience is they do nothing.

No party wall notice was served for neighbouring works. Can we claim compensation?

The electric devices that wrap around the pipes simply create a magnetic field as far as I’m aware, so no point in paying for the electricity when you can buy a magnet that doesn’t need it.

If the reader still wants to try one, I’d just get a split-magnet type. They take seconds to fit.

If you have the space and money, you’d be better off getting a water softener to reduce limescale.Joe Greaves, retired plumber from Leicester

My kitchen cupboards are old, but mostly in perfect condition. Unfortunately the edges of the doors nearest the dishwasher and oven have been heat damaged and the vinyl has melted and buckled.


I can’t replace the damaged doors with anything similar since the bevelled edges seem no longer to be in fashion, and I can’t find anyone who could remove and replace the vinyl.

Do you have any suggestions? Replacing all the doors with new ones seems such a sledgehammer to crack a nut, just for the sake of these three damaged ones.Judy Wilcox, Wirral

We often work with the company Magicman, which tells me it should be able to refinish your doors and estimates it would cost £200-300 + VAT for three. It says: “It sounds like you have a vinyl wrap that has separated around the edge due to excessive heat or moisture over time. This is most common with doors adjacent to ovens, dishwashers and washing machines/dryers or over grills. Depending on the severity of the separation, we could pare back vinyl, apply filler and finish with a top coat that matches the existing colour. If the damage is too severe the vinyl wrap can be removed completely, and the substrate can be primed and colour-matched to the original cupboards, so it is not liable to peel once again. Magicman deals with many insurance claims for just this sort of occurrence. Doors/drawers can either be collected by us or received via courier and refinished at our workshops, or in minor cases restored on site. The beauty of refinishing doors is that you can keep the original style, finish and profile of doors and drawers, whereas kitchen manufacturers constantly change designs to encourage you to buy a whole new kitchen.”Looeeze Grossman, owner, the Used Kitchen Company,;

We are buying a home being sold under probate. We have just discovered that it is being sold with limited guarantee (by executors). Our conveyancers seem laid back about it, but we are left wondering whether we should be worried by this limited guarantee? Should we have negotiated to pay less? Presumably a house being sold under limited guarantee does not offer the same reassurance and same value as an identical house sold with full guarantee?Anonymous

The contract for the sale of a property will provide that the sale is with either “full” or “limited” title guarantee.A full guarantee will provide the buyer with a number of warranties; for example that the seller has the right to dispose of the property. It also provides a warranty that the property is sold free of all charges (mortgages) and encumbrances created by the seller or former owners.

A limited title guarantee includes all of the same warranties, but the second warranty mentioned above is varied: the seller warrants that they have not encumbered the property, but that they cannot speak for any former owners.

It is standard practice that an executor on a probate sale will only provide a limited title guarantee, as not having owned the property they are unlikely to have the requisite full knowledge from a legal perspective. This is normal and does not justify a price reduction. There is likely to be little exposure to risk.Morris John, partner at Russell Cooke,


In practice there is little distinction for buyers whether a seller transfers with full or limited title guarantee. We are not aware of any cases where a buyer has been prejudiced by acceptance of a limited title guarantee. If the buyer were our client, we would advise them to proceed with the purchase without the need for any precautions.Simon Mills, partner at Ramsdens Solicitors LLP

How can I find an attractive carpet that moths won’t eat?Rob Philson, Bermondsey

We used Ulster Carpets for an Islington townhouse — a smart pinstripe that was mothproof. Also, on its website Crucial Trading says products are moth-resistant.@andrewdunning

Polypropylene carpets look like wool but aren’t tasty to moths.Freddie Dale, Glasgow

Westex boucle and briar carpets are moth-protected (sold at Carpetright).@scandiedwardian

Carpets by Penthouse, Telenzo and Brintons are treated to prevent moths.T Levine, Hampstead

Try coir or sisal.Julia, Kennington

Having read a number of shower screen cleaning tips, I thought I’d offer mine: after thoroughly cleaning my shower screen, I apply Rain-X, which leaves sparkling clear glass. I do a quick squeegee afterwards and reapply once a month instead of the weekly shower screen clean of the past.Jon Jones

After roasting a chicken, freeze the bones. When you have four sets, make a pan of stock. It saves on gas/electricity and means the house smells of boiling bones once not four times.J Graham, Glasgow

Our new neighbour keeps her cat locked out of her house. It’s always in our garden and house. It steals our cats’ food (we have two), uses their litter trays and makes a mess. This summer we had to keep windows and doors closed. Neighbour permitted us to spray the cat, but it didn’t work, and now jokes we have three cats! We don’t want conflict but can’t bear another summer with doors and windows closed. Help!Igor

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