Home Buyer Survey

The Trouble With Boundaries

This was part of a home buyer survey that took place in August 2020. For this survey, I initially asked the owner to show me around the property and grounds. I had noted perished bricks to the boundary walls and general maintenance to the boundaries. There were also tall conifer trees to the rear.

I was made aware that in this case the council owned the right boundaries and they spent over £7,000 for repairs (i.e. having retaining walls as footings for the fencing). It had not been established who was responsible for the left but it was thought it was the responsibility of the left neighbour.
Conifers were planted a long time ago and, as we quite frequently see when we are out surveying properties, they were not maintained being left to grow quite high. At the time of inspection, the conifer trees were adjacent to the council’s boundaries and also within influencing distance of the property’s foundations.

Home Buyer Survey

One of the issues here is that it may be difficult to maintain/repair/alter the boundaries without consent from the owners and it is something that needs to be considered when buying a property. The conifers also presented as a potential risk to the property and boundaries. Our client needed to be aware of their rights regarding the boundaries and any potential issues. Establishing boundaries shouldn’t be underestimated. The misconception of ‘you own the fence on the left when facing your house or the T-mark on a plan shows that you own the fence should be dismissed. You cannot rely on title deeds as there is no guarantee that they will give a definitive answer. I recommended that maintenance responsibilities to the boundaries should be confirmed by legal advisers to avoid potential disputes in the future.

Home Buyer Survey Findings

 

The conifers also presented a risk of ground heave and damage. During the survey I noted that the property and boundaries did not appear to be widely affected by the trees. However, it should be acknowledged that mature trees must not be removed in haste. This can cause the ground to swell due to the extra water in the ground, which may potentially damage the boundaries and property’s foundations and in a survey will be referred to as heave. I, therefore, recommended that further advice should be sought from a qualified tree surgeon regarding future maintenance and/or if removal is possible.
I learnt that verbal enquiries from third parties i.e. owner, estate agent, etc. can be used as a guide when writing my reports. I also learnt that by conducting these enquiries as part of my inspection routine ensures that I act on sufficient duty of care and diligence to the client.

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