Chimney exhaust ownership

by Readers Question

9:00 AM, 26th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Chimney exhaust ownership

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Chimney exhaust ownership

Hello everyone, I have got a terraced house and we need to replace the chimney at the top which is moving a bit due to weather.

This chimney is in between my and neighbour’s house. The question is how do I find out who owns the chimney as I want to split the cost as it can cost close to 800 pounds to repair, but my neighbour says that they don’t own this.

I will greatly appreciate the help.

Jagjit



Comments

Rob Crawford

8:44 AM, 25th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Please clarify: Do the neighbours use the chimney? Also, does it rest across the party wall and rest on the neighbours chimney breast within their house? I suspect from their response to you that they don't use it for heating. However, it would still form part of the structure within their house. If it needs maintenance they should be expected to fund half the repair. If the chimney is not repaired and it collapses and causes damage or injury, they would be equally liable. If you explain this and it is ignored, maybe a letter from a solicitor would be the way forward.

Mark Alexander

8:51 AM, 25th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 25/04/2019 - 08:44
I agree with the above.

You could also check with the solicitor who did the conveyancing for you when you purchased the property.

Paul Shears

11:27 AM, 25th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Be very careful here. I have found from extensive experience over decades that you get far more cowboy builders involved in roofing work than in other "trades".
It would not be unusual for a chimney like this to need maintenance.
I had the worst scenario of all and had to take down the entire chimney from the chimney pot right down through the house to below the ground floor. I did this on my own in one day whilst avoiding damaging my neighbour's side. Obviously the chimney stack had to be removed on both sides.
This cost me only my own labour. It is unskilled work but the world is full of unskilled and "skilled" people with appaling judgement.
It's essential to get your neighbour on board with the task. It may be that they simply have no money or they genuinely do not understand.
In my case I had an amicable meeting in my neighbour's house with him, his wife, and due to the very inconvenient timing of the problem, the couple who were about to buy the property next door.
I gave them two options:
1. Take down the chimney and rebuild it.
2. Take down the chimney and extend the roof over the opening resulting from the removed chimney.
I made it very clear to everyone that doing nothing was simply not an option.
They all claimed they had no money.
So I did the job myself at almost no cost except labour.
A week after I finished the work we had the Great Storm of 1987, a violent extra-tropical cyclone that occurred on the night of 15–16 October, and literally cut off the road and rail links from the town of Sevenoaks.
You can well imagine that all involved were relived especially when so many chimney stacks and other structures around the town collapsed that night.
So if you can't get up on the roof yourself, at least take some high quality photographs with a zoom lens camera.
Then get someone you can trust to look at it.
It may well be that all that is required is the top few courses of bricks need to be relaid or the chimney, if no longer required, shortened.
One £800 "quote" (Or is it really an estimate?) from a stranger, irrespective of "recommendations" or feedback on the internet, is an act of blind faith and nowhere near good enough when you are dealing with tradesmen.
Frankly you will achieve more when you have got all the facts together by presenting them to you neighbour in a friendly way, than by other means, even if it means picking up the tab for the work yourself.
You can go down the official route of issuing party wall statements to the neighbour if they are still uncooperative but this can get very messy and drawn out if mishandled at the outset.
Either way, if this is a really big problem, then you will just have to make a decision on the course of action, be they "formal and legal" or based on personal assessment, and live with the consequences.
I am going through the same sort of problem again right now and due to my neighbour's total inability to take any responsibility and he having hired the worst cowboy builders that I have ever personally encountered, it has been six months of utter hell that will continue for many months more.
After they have all gone, I will step in and sort out the very significant structural damage that they have caused to my property and I may well suffer more than financial loss as a result.

Rob Crawford

14:18 PM, 25th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Chimney beasts can form part of the building structure, particularly where the party wall is single skin. In this case it may not be wise to remove it without structural engineer assessment. Also, don't underestimate the number of bricks, it's a lot of dirty work! Lastly, start at the top and work down!!

Paul Shears

21:35 PM, 25th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 25/04/2019 - 14:18Quite right and that was exactly the scenario that I faced and solved.
In my current similar problem a group of us have employed four separate structural engineers. I very much doubt if any of us will ever employ another one......
It appears that just like every other walk of life, any muppet can get trained using muscle memory and licensed. Of course they may also remember to take out some form of professional insurance but do not bank on it.
In the end life just carries risks and if you cannot manage to minimise those risks or your luck just plain runs out, then that is just how it is. Filling out a form and passing a problem onto someone else without doing your very best to understand what you are doing and why you are doing it, is an admission to others that you just cannot cope and makes you a very vulnerable target. Keep that up long enough and the consequences are almost inevitable in any aspect of life.

Freda Blogs

22:13 PM, 25th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Shears at 25/04/2019 - 21:35Structural engineers are highly qualified with challenging exams, so are definitely not muppets. If they get things wrong, the consequences can be very serious indeed.
Sometimes they act for muppets though.

Paul Shears

23:09 PM, 25th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Well perhaps we just got unlucky four times in a row.
But then again how could you expect a structural engineer to notice which way the beams run and at what level. It then becomes quite understandable why, having completely misdiagnosed the route cause of the problem after a one hour survey, he thought he could get a builder to anchor into thin air.
And to be fair, once it became apparent to him that he might lose further involvement, he did offer to reduce his fee for a more in depth second one hour survey from £900 to zero.....
And then again, once I explained the problem to him in writing with a follow up discussion when he came back to me three weeks later, he did admit that this was outside the ability of his company to handle.
So that was "professional".
Then we had the structural engineer who had gone on to take a MRes (Master of Research) who wanted £150K to do the work without doing anything beyond a site chat. He also wanted me to find someone else to underwrite the risk which he, inevitably, completely mis-guessed.
Then we all paid for a structural report that we will never receive unless we want to pursue a crook in league with a builder who has ripped off two of my neighbours to the tune of over £40K.
Want some specifics?
Previous directly relevant experience: Time to construct a pair of first class drives using proper builders with proper equipment and the relevant skills and judgement on two of my own properties and those of a colleague (Four drives in total): Two days.
Time to construct a single identical drive using a builder recommended to my neighbour by his pet structural engineer:
Unknown.
But so far, three - four men seven days a week for two weeks. The job is not even half done, will cause damp in his house (Yet again!), has no weed barrier, will sink the first time a lorry does a three point turn on the drive, if not earlier. This total £4000 job is already over £20K not counting the cost of the "Structural Engineer". The main occupation of this professional team is to dig small holes in pieces of the drive and mover the material fro one part of the site to another and then back again. The owner & his family have had to move out and amongst the many other "Professional Services" that they have paid out for, have discovered that the £1000 survey they paid for when they bought the property 18 months ago, had clauses in it which rendered it no better than a simple valuation. So no come-back there unless he follows the advice a a "professional Solicitor" who has advised him to pay up, get the job done, and then sue his property valuer.
This poor fool is already £100K beyond is debt maximised means and a relative is propping up his lack of judgement and his continual reliance on "professionals"
The very firm opinion of two of companies that the rest of us consulted on site, who happened to be Federation of Master Builders but , if you reread my previous statements is far from the most important matter, was that the whole thing is a monumental scam and the poor fool next door is being utterly ripped off - yet again!
My comments and very unpleasant observations do not simply relate to "Structural Engineers". They relate to absolutely anyone that you might employ or interact with including the medical or any other "profession".
I have myself been a member of several "professional" organisations in more than one field (including building), and they simply shift the underlying problem from one area to another.
Either you have the ability to work things out for yourself or you are at risk of the conduct of others which you are taking as a matter of blind faith.
By the way, don't assume that everyone, irrespective of their education and experience, understands the concept of gravity. They don't. Even when it is explained to them very slowly indeed.......

Derek t

7:58 AM, 27th April 2019
About 8 months ago

£800 to repair a chimney means very little without knowing the size of the chimney height width and depth also the type of construction is it brick or rendered is it a simple small area or a elaborate design
How high is the roof is it a two, three or a four story house will it need scaffolding to access or a cherry picker this can add a significant amount to any repair
As you can appreciate there is a lot of info to consider when pricing a job
If the neighbours are not willing to split cost if it’s proven they do in fact have ownership of part of the chimney I would be inclined to repair my side of the chimney and issue a disclaimer to the neighbour via a solicitor stating that they are liable for any future issues due to poor maintenance of the property on their part. always get more than one quote from preferably from someone recommended

Rennie

9:21 AM, 27th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Shears at 25/04/2019 - 21:35
This is fantastic advice and not just about chimney works, it applies to all things in life - Thank you

Dancinglandlord

9:24 AM, 27th April 2019
About 8 months ago

I have to say that I agree with Paul. I have had some dreadful encounters including one that nearly cost me my house through 'structural surveyors' bad advice. Had I not done what Paul recommends and tried to understand the problem myself that's exactly what might have happened. In that case I was lucky enough not to have paid the bill (and didn't as it became clear that the advice was duff).
I have also on another issue, sued a roofer after he re-roofed a house I own that had damp/leaks round all the chimneys. Those problem continued AFTER the re-roof. One of the roofer's attempts at a get-out was to say that he didn't know whether one of the chimneys belonged to me or a neighbour and that it was up to me to have told him! Another roofer, called in for a 2nd opinion, told me to contact the FMB, which I did, and their chartered surveyor found the roofer to be at fault and gave him 6 months to remedy the work. When he didn't, the FMB wouldn't even strike him off their register. - They said I had to take him to court! Useless. I won the court case even though the roofer had legal insurance and therefore a solicitor in court (clearly he had been here before). And it cost the roofer 5K. The case took a whole day and the roofer tried to blind the judge with technicalities. I had spent ages researching roofing by then and was able to undermine his blarney, but the time it had taken up was very stressful. AND I was still out of pocket. Interestingly the 2nd roofer - who charged me 2K to put the problems right, had written a letter ( produced by roofer 1 on the day of the court case), saying that the 1st roofer had done nothing wrong! The judge disallowed it after I pointed out the illogical and late nature of the evidence, but I was flabbergasted. The judge DIDN'T allow any claim for the 2K to remedy the faults as she said that I had made a 'commercial decision' to fix the roof before the court case!! This was despite the first roofer having had over 18 months to fix problems that meant my tenants living in damp conditions. And they blame landlords for the condition of their houses!
If I have any advice it is that property is not for the faint hearted and ALWAYS ask questions if something seems illogical. Don't try and get jobs done on the cheap, but don't assume that the more expensive a job is the better quality it will be. The reverse is often true these days as that is exactly how the marketing of some trades works. I look for tradesmen who seem genuine, experienced and want the work (and for you to re-employ them in the future). And as for professionals - if you find good ones then hang on to them as they are worth their weight in gold.


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