Building works in some instances may impact neighbouring or adjoining property. Building surveyors, certifiers and engineers carry the responsibility to guild and determine whether protection works are required.

Owner builders, particularly home renovators, demonstrate increased neighbourly sensitivities as they may have resided at the address for some time and may plan to do so for many more years.

Adjoining property impacts and considerations are determined prior to any work permits being issued.

In NSW, adjoining property legislation resides within the Conveyancing Act 1919 and subsequent Conveyancing Amendment Act 2000, section 177. An owner builder holds a statutory duty of care not to do anything on or in relation to property by removing or weakening support to any adjoining land or property. In Victoria, an owner builder has obligations under the Building Act 1993 to protect property from potential damage caused by their work.

A request for building insurance will universally include declaration questions relating to adjoining property. Insurance risk profiles are heightened when construction works occur close to neighbouring property, public land including roadways or adjoining or shared wall(s) between properties.

Underwriters may require the following supporting information when assessing an application for insurance:

  1. Excavation beyond two metres may require details of sub-contractor engaged to perform the works;
  2. Engineering reports;
  3. Site and soil report;
  4. Condition report of any adjoining property;
  5. Building and site plans;
  6. Details of the building engineer or surveyor’s professional insurance.

In Victoria, quality owner builder insurance schedules include a pre-set endorsement for Protection of Adjoining Property. The endorsement protects the adjoining property owners for a period of 12 months from the certificate of occupancy or completion.

In NSW, municipal councils may require through the development consent conditions that prior to any works commencing a dilapidation inspection be undertaken by a building engineer or surveyor to document and report on the condition of the adjoining property and structures. The purpose of this is to protect both the owner builder and an adjoining property owner from false claims or counter claims should any alleged damage occur.

Starting out building a dream home or renovation is exciting. Neighbourly disputes arising from building project are always passionate but never pleasant. They can often be avoided by open communication and a genuine desire to demonstrate care through protecting neighbouring and adjoining property. Seeking insurance advice from insurance brokers with a history in owner builder insurances will help all concerned parties.