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Old 28.02.2021, 16:09
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Neighbors built too close to our property

My neighbor just came asking that we sign some paper and Iíd like to hear any opinion out there.

Basically they extended their house and the architect made a mistake, resulting in their new walls being 4.8m from ours instead of the regular 5. I could not care less about those 20 cms, but I am afraid the value of our house (which we might want to sell in a not too distant future) would be affected.

Most annoying is that we just came back from holidays and they would need the signatures by today. Thatís not going to happen as I need to think about it.

I am strongly tempted to tell them that we wonít sign and advise them instead to sue the architect and have him fix his mistake. Of course this would be detrimental for our relationship, but again we might move in the next few years and sell the house so no huge deal.

What would you do?

Thanks!
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Old 28.02.2021, 16:13
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

Have them move the house.

Otherwise, inform them that you will have to take it up with your lawyer and that this could take some months.

Tom
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Old 28.02.2021, 16:18
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

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Have them move the house.
Actually the issue seems to just be the insulation, so not a big deal to just remove it and repaint.
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Old 28.02.2021, 16:22
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

It will depend on your relationship with your neighbours - now and into the future.

In Switzerland there doesn't seem to be much surveying of properties before buying, but I don't think it's worth the risk. It's possible you find you have difficulty in selling if the buyer is a stickler.

It's certainly not your fault. You are right not to be forced into a snap decision.

I would say you are seeking legal advice, which your neighbours and/or their architect will have to pay for - in addition to reducing the extension to comply with the law...
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Old 28.02.2021, 16:22
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

My sil in law sold some land at the bottom of their garden, at the bottom of a slope- with a contract stating the maximum building height had to be no more than 2 storeys, and stated max- so they would keep their magnificent views of the Downs. The buyers built with an extra foot (about 25cm) - luxury 6 bed, 3 bath home. My sil got them to take the top floor down and reduce it - as it affected her view. THAT was an expensive mistake.

But 20 linear cm- really. I would let it go. Do you think it was a genuine error- or they knew and counted on you just accepting it.

Last edited by JackieH; 28.02.2021 at 19:27.
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Old 28.02.2021, 16:29
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

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But 20 linear cm- really. I would let it go. Do you think it was a genuine error- or they knew and counted on you just accepting it.
It was certainly a genuine error, no question about that.

We actually already signed something a few years back when they built a wooden shade like 2 cms from our land without asking permission to anybody and were fined for it. So I feel like we have been already too nice.
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Old 28.02.2021, 17:41
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

I think your instinct to be a good neighber and your comment that it doesn't make any difference to you is absolutely the correct one and you should try to stay on that path, however, you don't want to make a quick decision now that could have negative consequences for you in the future.

It is not your fault, nor is it your responsibility to solve this persons problem. Your neighbor people s/he hired made a mistake and you do not have to bail them out by signing something quickly that you don't have the know-how to properly evaluate.

Therefor, I would absolutely not sign anything before seeingt a lawyer specializing in real estate law as soon as possible and get officially informed of your options as some legal clock may have already started counting down.

A real estate lawyer will be able to tell you exactly what each of the options you have are and what the consequences are for each of the options.
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Old 28.02.2021, 17:47
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

If you decide to let it go then make sure everything is documented completely - including an admission of fault by the architect.

You know what will probably happen in the future if you're not careful:

When you come to sell the place, or your neighbour comes to sell their place, someone will measure the distance, you'll be found at fault and you'll need to move your walls back 20cm!
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Old 28.02.2021, 19:05
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

Not really possible to answer without knowing all the details and understanding the impact.

But I'd be thinking if I need anything from them - maybe a new fence or something to reduce the impact? You have huge negotiating power at the moment.

Moving the wall back 20cm could easily cost half of what the whole build took, and it's not an acceptable mistake - they didn't have to build out to precisely 5m in the first place, so I'd have little sympathy for them.

And asking you to sign something on the same day is taking the mickey, no way I would do that.
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Old 28.02.2021, 19:44
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

Sweetie, itís not an error but a calculated strategy. They knew exactly what they were doing but decided to accept the consequences, knowing their neighbors would not put up a fuss. Itís done all the time.
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Old 28.02.2021, 19:58
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

I'll add m voice to the chorus:

Do not sign anything without legal advice, as well as a discussion with the local Bauamt. And if you decide to sign, negotiate compensation before you do.

I say this because your neighbor has damaged your property. This is no time to be Mr Nice Guy - you will be the one who could end up hurt and potentially losing a significant amount in the end.

Is your house built with enough extra Abstand from the property line to account for the 20cm?

If so, you might do what an acquaintance did in a similar situation where the neighbor was out of compliance.

Her house was farther back from the property line, so she agreed to sell the neighbor land on her side to make up the difference. Of course she needed to be compensated, well above the going price per m2 due to the overall loss to the present and future value of her now smaller property. She asked for something well into 6 figures and I believe got it. All depends on what pain the neighbor was going to face since he was clearly in the wrong and likely looking at an expensive demolition and re-build.

These are the kind of things you should discuss with a lawyer. Do nothing under pressure, do not feel you have to be nice. It's not your problem - yet. But it could end up being your problem, by which time you'd have no recourse.

Anytime you give up your rights you devalue your own property - and thus should be compensated.

Hope it all works out for you.
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Old 28.02.2021, 20:10
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

Thanks for all the useful replies, I am taking time to seek all the advice I can find and you have been already very helpful.

Funny day today, another neighbor just came to ask permission to raise his roof 20 more cms (their house is already one floor higher than ours). I told him Iíll get back to him too
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Old 28.02.2021, 20:12
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

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Thanks for all the useful replies, I am taking time to seek all the advice I can find and you have been already very helpful.

Funny day today, another neighbor just came to ask permission to raise his roof 20 more cms (their house is already one floor higher than ours). I told him Iíll get back to him too
Now you know what to do - contract up front stating that every cm extra "mistake" will cost them 100k...
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Old 28.02.2021, 20:19
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

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Actually the issue seems to just be the insulation, so not a big deal to just remove it and repaint.

In this country insulation is a big deal and we're about 2mm of an error. Consult a lawyer or architect if you are concerned, but I would not be surprised if nothing happens in the end.
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Old 28.02.2021, 20:22
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

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In this country insulation is a big deal and we're about 2mm of an error. Consult a lawyer or architect if you are concerned, but I would not be surprised if nothing happens in the end.
The need to put the insulation inside the house so will lose 30cm of the internal space, fairly easy to do. The question is ho much will they pay the OP to have him accept the situation.
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Old 28.02.2021, 21:46
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

What happens if you don't sign?
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Old 28.02.2021, 21:54
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

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What happens if you don't sign?
No idea. Will ask the lawyer when I find one.
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Old 28.02.2021, 22:01
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

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What happens if you don't sign?
Their problem does not vanish.
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Old 28.02.2021, 22:53
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

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The question is ho much will they pay the OP to have him accept the situation.
In my experience the question is what the community will approve in mitigation. Iíve seen a couple of accidental errors here that got by our local planning office.
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Old 01.03.2021, 10:10
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Re: Neighbors built too close to our property

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Thanks for all the useful replies, I am taking time to seek all the advice I can find and you have been already very helpful.

Funny day today, another neighbor just came to ask permission to raise his roof 20 more cms (their house is already one floor higher than ours). I told him Iíll get back to him too
Honestly, I think you're just inconveniencing the rest of the neighbourhood. Better demolish your house and give away your land to your neighbours!
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