Buillders Starting on Site & Fencing Rights

We have a building development next door.

They have started a site scrape. Is that deemed to be commencement of site works? We don't think they have a building permit yet.

They also want to pull down our boundary fence today. Only telling us yesterday.What are our rights?

Due to the previous builders demo works and now subsequent site scrape they have undermined the fence post foundations and the lean on the fence is now very noticeable. Like 500mm off in parts. We also have some items fixed to the fence. The clothes line post being the main issue if they pull down the fence. It's more what are they going to put up instead of the fence. If its a temporary fence it could be months before a new fence is installed. They can see into our bath and bedrooms.

Thanking those you can comment in advance.

Also what is the legal time they can start works on site? VIC.

Comments

  • +10 votes

    Given how the build has started, you're going to have issues…..

    Take photos today. To show the condition. Take lots of photos.

    If you are going to survive with minimal pain, you might have to grin and bear things that you might normally object to. Builders don't give a (profanity) about neighbours. trying to enforce things on them generally doesn't go well. Being somewhat pleasant can go further.

    Noise is here https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/environmental-infor...

    • +1 vote

      I don't have to deal with it during day as at work. Partner home though. Narrow street with Jo standing on one side. They a tree already ignoring no standing. I get the cold treatment when I get hone

      • +1 vote

        Like I said, bend a bit or the stress will mount.

        Other way is to go full hostile with photos sent to council everyday.

        •  

          Agree. Trying to help partner, but I think it is an issue for her. We went to VCAT with the other developer. Delayed project for 5years. I just want these new builders to build it as quickly as possible so we can move on. Hopefully with not any issues with our property.

          •  

            @Dedbny: Then photos so you can show what your place was like before they started (a bit late now, but better than no photos)

          •  

            @Dedbny:

            I just want these new builders to build it as quickly as possible so we can move on

            Going off on a little rant, but when we had builders next to us and they got to the stage they wanted to replace the fence, did my best to be open and see what I can do to hurry it up.

            We have yukkas along part of the fence line. Day 1 - asked them if they would like me to do anything to help expedite the process - they said it's no issue.

            Was suppose to be finished day 2 (I know, but I've got a wife at home too, hence not taking the relaxed approach), so when there was still no sign on day 3 of it finishing up, I called courteously asking what their ETA was and they had the gall to make a comment about the yukkas slowing it down - if it was an issue, they should have let me know either whenever they deemed it to be an issue.

            In saying that, I didn't take the bait as I didn't want to give them any reason to delay the job any more.

          • +1 vote

            @Dedbny:

            We went to VCAT with the other developer. Delayed project for 5years.

            Whats another 5 years

  • +3 votes

    Photos, photos, photos and call the council for any concerns.

  • +1 vote

    I know when building a fence you have upwards of 28 days notice, and they cannot do anything until end of those 28 days if you do not respond/consent.

    Cannot tell much from your photo, but they would have had to have had engineering done on their site for such issues during a knockdown rebuilt. Who is the builder?

    Fencing Laws VIC
    residential noise laws

    Take a lot of photos of current before works.

  • +11 votes

    I came home years ago to discover the fence b/n me and the new development (next door) gone. They just ripped it out, same as you're describing, to moonscape the block. Two years later they put up a temporary fence after they got a visit from Worksafe. Today, 3 years later, there is stil a temp fence and they frequently move it to use my land.

    Council DNGAF.
    Coppers DNGAF.
    Builder definately DNGAF.

    I have asked, cajoled, pestered and, finally, abused the builder, to no avail.

    7am is the legal "can make noise" start time, except for weekends, which is 9am. I don't know when they're meant to stop but the imbeciles next door to me are frequently still there at 7.30 pm.

    I'd suggest you go to council and request a complete copy of the plans that have been approved. I'd also get a copy of the council/planning meeting minutes for the meeting where the plan was reviewed. I left that too late and now I'm permanently disadvantaged. Stuff got approved that should not have been nd the councillors were too stupid or disinterested to question what the planning staff recommended.

    Aldi are going their 8 camera CCTV system for $300 deal soon. If I had my time again, I'd have bought one of those and installed all 8 cameras to record everything that goes on onsite.

    I'm sorry to not be more positive for you.

    •  

      I know how it goes I just want to minimise the damage. That fence down is an issue as you say it could be up for months till they finish project and they just started today.

    • +2 votes

      Best thing is when they didnt have a fence to fake an injury then threaten to sue the site manager etc etc, park right in front of their driveway,

      or say you have kids and they run around the yard…

      but only if you have nothing else to do and seriously a walled…

    •  

      Sucks but the surveillance is actually the best option… So much can go wrong and then the tradies just shrug and pretend nothing happened. They take on more than they can do sometimes and accidents happen.

  • +1 vote

    there should be a site supervisor on a sign stuck on the front of the house, contact them (via email) and seek their assistance…

    • +3 votes

      this ^
      no mention by OP of what contact they have had with site manager to discuss the works and the impacts on them.
      perhaps if you engage the operators they can even do some works for you gratis (if you need any). Try to work with them, not against them. Fences can be rebuilt, temporary fences can be covered in plastic. Ask them to drop a new post in for your clothes line. You may be surprised.
      Council search will also reveal any permits - have you searched?

      • +2 votes

        We will try this. Nice doesn't always work and you just get stepped on because the Builder thinks they have the rights to do whatever they like.

  • +9 votes

    If it's a private residential building, then Council aren't in any way likely to be or get involved with your issue.

    The building permit would have been issued by a private building surveyor, not local Council. As such, contacting them will just have you directed to whoever the neighbour's building surveyor is. Council will have this on file.

    In so much as site clearing, this is not deemed as 'commencement of site works'. Construction begins when construction actually begins, what you're experiencing is likely demolition phase / site clearing which is a different permission from 'construction works'.

    As to the fence, unless you agree with the current land owner that no fence arrangement is permitted, then a fence should be there. The builder won't know anything nor are they really going to care as they're there just to build the house. It's up to the land owner and neighbours to decide on what they want to do with the fence.

    If you know the land owner (eg. previous owner), best you talk to them about your concerns. In the past, I've offered to replace all the fences prior to build as a good-will gesture (mainly personally motivated as I don't want any hassles from the neighbours).

    Just inform the builder and owner that you do not support removal of the fence without immediate replacement. Your neighbour will likely want to delay a fence build as long as possible simply because it will get damaged during the build. Send them the message in both email and letter and state reasons why eg. personal open space invasion, security, etc. Also be very explicit verbally with the builder 'I DO NOT GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO REMOVE THIS FENCE - I OWN HALF OF IT', they won't read letters but it's useful for later, as explained below.

    If they don't listen and still remove fence without your consent, and your personal/property issues still exist, then (as annoying at it is) it falls to you to rectify. Have a new fence constructed and give the owner an opportunity to fully or half pay the new fence cost - send them reminders every 2 weeks for 3 times total. If letters/emails are ignored or not agreed to, then take the owner to magistrate court to recover costs. At best you'll get the full cost back provided you've made good attempts to resolve it and justification that the fence didn't need replacing and was only done so because of building site issue/removal/damage, otherwise you'll get half the cost of fence back which is the default position for these circumstances.

    Unfortunately you'll have to take ownership of this issue. There is minimal if any benefit by going to Council, Coppers and Builders, it's not that they 'DNGAF' as mentioned by above poster/response, it's that this (fence) is a civil matter which they are unable to assist. Council will be involved if they're not building the site in accordance to approved plans.

    As background for explanation on the above, I've built 5 houses and had 2 constructed next to one of mine. I've been called to VCAT and VBA numerous times not because of issue I've caused or not resolved, but in one build, the neighbour was bi-polar/crazy. The above advice is from my lawyer (I used to study law too so kept some good connections) based on experience with an issue that even VCAT could not reside over, but required Magistrate.

    Also, avoid fixing/attaching items to the fence. If for whatever reason it can be proved that it accelerated or caused the fence or eventual fence to deteriorate quicker than normal, then you may be required to replace at full cost to you.

    • +1 vote

      I disagree, in my case.

      Council did issue the permit, and they also put conditions on the build that have never been complied with - that Council are meant to enforce, and haven't. That they refuse to enforce. The developer has not complied in well over 1,000 days with conditions that were meant to be satisfied before any works took place.

      Additionally, criminal damage, trespass and theft - again in my case - have occcurred and video evidence has been presented to the police.

      They most empathically DNGAF.

    •  

      @porker Thanks for the detailed post. We are trying to deal with the developer/builder. The building surveyor has confirmed only retaining walls being done. Hence why they randomly want to remove the fence now, but I don't the planning permit says new fence. In any event there are now issues with the fence not on good order. Will sort it out and hopefully they also come to the party. I am not there to deal with it, so partner has to. We will work through it. Just not great at moment.

  • +2 votes

    It's like a dispute with the neighbour. The sooner you work with them and try to get on a amicable grounding the less likely it's going to escalate.

    Like others have said, try and build some rapport with the building supervisor. Especially if they're a reputable company that has heaps of projects around they might care about more about public perception and having the neighbours on board etc as the less hassles you give them generally the quicker they get things done and the happier their clients and everyone makes money too. If that fails, a reputable company will have some other point of contact that you might be able to speak to as well.

    If it's a small scale one time builder then it might be a bit of pot luck.

    Sorry to hear about your situation, sounds like it'll be a bit stressful not knowing what to expect with these sort of builds. The good news is at least they're contacting you before ripping out the fence so it sounds like there's some element of professionalism (albeit minimal).

  • +1 vote

    Good luck, have had this for the last 2+ years, luckily they didn't have to take my fence down. Had our brand new house covered in dust about 2 months after we moved in, then continued for 2 years. Had some absolute goose and his workers come and work on a house one Sunday morning at 6am. God I hate builders and developers.

  • +1 vote

    The benefit will be you get a free new fence when it is done. Refuse to pay any contribution but make sure you have photos to show the fence was in good condition and didnt need replacement.

    You could ask if they could put green shade cloth on the temp fencing for some privacy.

    If they are a bit dodgy - keen an eye on outside taps and electrical outlets as they could use them during the day.

    And yeah do your cameras to keep an eye on things.

    • -2 votes

      Oh one of the tradies already used out tap to start filling up his drink bottle. Partner caught him in the act. He said oh are you the owner. Can I just get some water. Partner said no. He then said oh ok ill get it from another house. WTF.

      • +2 votes

        yeah though sometimes if it's just to fill their drink bottle let them…sometimes building rapport may help

        that being said…my friends had some building works done, and the workers were pissed off about something so they ended up pissing in empty drink bottles and leaving it outside my friend's doorstep..

      •  

        Yes, WTF at your partner saying no. Wow.. just wow

        • -2 votes

          Look at it this way. Give them an inch they take a mile. We are not going to take crap from them. You may like to invite them over for dinner we don't. They have already started to park on the no standing side of our narrow street blocking access. Starting outside of work time. Banging their digger against the fence. Taking a pee exposing themselves in public… Do I need to go on. This in the first few days.

          We are not here for the whim of the builder or his tradies. They are in our backyard and should consider our issues.

          I do however know that I need to work with the builder as they don't usually give a Sh.. Especially their tradies. We will speak with the supervisor and advise them to action what we need. If he doesn't get his tradies to do stuff properly we will call Council.

      •  

        I caught a worker from next door leaving the front tap on! I checked the cameras and worked out who it was. Installed one of the security taps and confronted the guy the next day. of course he denied it till I told him it was all on camera and then he "suddenly" remembered…..

        told him, I'm fine with him using the tap, but FFS turn it off when done! (not that he can use it now anyway LOL)
        no issues since

        • -2 votes

          Yes back to my original comment. Give them an inch and they'll take advantage of it. Ok. Bunnings and tamper lock. They will use out tap as they will need to clean tool or wash off as I don't think they currently have an operational tap.

          You comment also makes me want to get the camera's even more now. Just in case there is any noticeable stolen stuff or damage I might have some footage of the culprit.

    •  

      Yeah had some issues with an apartment, the whole floor needed to be fixed in few apartments due to leakage. Anyway i find out they tried to turn the air conditioner on..presumably through the whole week…fortunately the company cut of the elct so they couldnt…fkers.

  •  

    In WA, if you already have a building permit, no consent is required to remove the boundary fences. only required if you need to access the neighbour's land.

  • +2 votes

    Speak to site manager. Say they do not have permission to remove the fence. You want to speak to the owners. Get in writing that the owner of next door will pay for full replacement fence upon completion of build/certificate of occupancy.

  •  

    also see here regarding start/end times for noise:
    EPA-Vic

    they can start/end work any time they like.. it's the noise that is restricted (as in can be heard from a habitable room)

  •  

    What council are you with? did next door need a planning permit (did they have the yellow advert sign out the front for a while)? if they have a planning permit then council will be involved, not just the private building surveyor. If you have privacy concerns then you could address them with council.

    •  

      Bayside. Usless. Happy to take my rates fees.

      •  

        You should write to your local MP, detailed concerns, something a letter like that may force the council to do something

      •  

        hahahaha…. yeah me as well. i'm about to lodge a tree removal permit with bayside.. don't like my chances.

        •  

          Good luck with that. What's your reason for tree removal? Bayside love their trees unless your a developer. Then yeah it's OK to remove.

  •  

    As part of my house build the fence needed to come down to build the garage. So I checked with the neighbors well ahead of schedule. They had a dog, so I made sure the builder put up a temporary fence to ensure the dog didn't get out. Not those wire free standing ones either, proper fence posts and timber palings that could be considered permanent. Once they finished, they removed that fence and built them a brand new fence to block the side where the original fence used to be.

    And then when I dropped over to see if they were happy with everything, the husband goes spare at me claiming my builders damaged his front fence which was never touched (and in pretty crap condition to start with).

    •  

      Did your builder do a dilapidation report? Existing condition report of the front fence. The Builder came yesterday to do that. Mind you the fence was in a worse state, so not a true indicator of what it was prior to their site scrape. The builder has already indicated previously that they will replace fence from protection notice. We will see if it happens.Mind you the fence was in poor condition from other Builder doing demo. We don't believe we should pay for the replacement if the neighbour caused the fence to be not in good condition. I'd they want to sell the new units they would have factored having to replace it anyway. In our opinion.

      •  

        do you have a copy of the protection notice? just remain steadfast, don't pay, if he takes you to VCAT, show your photos and protection notice. I doubt they will make anything stick and get you to pay.

        at my previous house, my neighbour ripped down the fence (no letter, no door knock). got home from work one day and there's a gaping hole…. next day fence goes up. he then sends a letter saying please pay half.. told him to get lost, that's not how it works…. he dropped it in the end, never heard from him again.

        •  

          We do. We approved it with conditions. Will have to check it. But they can't get a full blown building permit yet due to amendments. I don't think they realise this site had 16 objectors that went to VCAT over the last application. Any amendments we are going to review. Already they are saying deletion of a visitors space. No.

        •  

          I did find the agreed protection notice. The builder/owner did day they will replace the fence at their cost if damaged. That's fine, but it now more of the details which we didn't ask at the time. We have requested a meeting as now they want to do the temp fence on Monday. We want to know what this temp fence is. We don't believe one of those metal grill ones will be satisfactory. Hoping for a good meeting and a fully understanding builder who is willing to agree to our requests.

      •  

        House next door is housing commission and the entire fence used to be a low picket fence and has had all the pickets removed (probably for heating in winter many years ago). The fence is in such shit condition it was a bit of a laugh they tried to get me to fix one post. Was tempted to do just that and paint it beautifully to highlight how crap the rest of the fence is. We did a dilapidation report with the other neighbor as a matter of course as we separated our semidetached house from theirs (the neighbor took great offence thinking I was saying her house was dilapidated… Oh well). All the fences were recently replaced. The only damage the demolition crew really made was to remove one set of gate posts so they could fit their bigger trucks in. That gate post was right next to fence post in question. Funny thing is that we had the site survey done and that fence post is on our land.

  •  

    Is the ground level of the boundary going to be different after they level the land?

    A new house was belt next to ours before we bought our house, and the existing fence was retained, but on their side the post foundations are exposed. The fence itself has been ok for 20 years regardless though.

    •  

      They are cutting lower. We also have a small timber retaining on our side set back 300mm. Hope that is not undermined. We told the builder it was there in protection notice.

  • +1 vote

    Don't let them pull down your fence (speaking from experience).

    Go to council and tell them your concerns and ask for a building inspector to come out and check they're doing everything correctly, especially any encroachment onto your land - eg, they've made the fence lean already.

    You can ring up council and ask for starting and finishing times for building works and report them if they start early or finish late.

    •  

      We built our garage right on the boundary. We had to remove the fence to be able to do that. We got agreement from neighbor to be able to build the wall from their side so that the brick finish would be cleaner. The brickies said they could build the wall without setting foot in neighbors property but they would then have a pretty shitty looking wall to look at.

  •  

    You might be able to take the council to Land and Environment Court or the equivalent in Vic if they're not acting on your concerns/letting the builders get away with what they shouldn't and you've complained and the council have done nothing to investigate. I used to work in the NSW LEC. You could represent yourself maybe.

    You could make inquiries anyway :-)

  • +1 vote

    We had a new house built next to us, our fence was old and already falling to pieces.
    When they started building the fencing obviously fell down straight away.

    The build took over 4 years and it was just a dual occupancy place, nothing special but I think they had issues internally with the construction company which caused significant delays.

    My point is, as people have said, take photos.
    Remove all your stuff that is hanging on the fence, sounds like it will fall.
    You will just need to suck it up until they finish construction and once it’s done and they try to get you to pay half just show the evidence that the fence was fine until they started construction.

    People might be able to see in your yard.
    Do not pay half.

    •  

      Agree. Hope mine doesn't go 4 years. The positive thing is the unapproved plans had a full basement carpark next to our property. Hence why we fought that in VCAT.

      • +1 vote

        The people over our back fence brought up the poor condition of the fence before my build started, it was obvious that it was needing replacement. They had dogs and a young child and we were putting in a pool. So we had pool boundary requirements additionally. He was a tradie and had a good fencing mate who was absolutely brilliant and anchored each post with 50kg of concrete minimum, set the horizonals spacing to comply with pool regs and capped the top of the fence to improve lifespan. We worked out standard fence replacement price and I just paid all the extras. Wasn't expensive and I got what I wanted.

  • +1 vote

    This is my favourite builder interacting with residents story.

    https://www.theage.com.au/national/maserati-head-over-wheels...

    •  

      This is great but honestly scary, how can they be unsure if charges can be laid?

      I would love to see the insurance claims on all the cars picked up as they will all be fkd after that.

  • +2 votes

    A block adjacent to us started earthworks without approval and permits and that too on a Sunday at 7am!
    I spoke to the earthworks bloke and their builder politely requesting they work during approved hours. But they told me to bugger off and do whatever I please as nothing will stop them.
    So I took their advice :P and called the council that very moment and explained the situation. They arrived an hour later and put a full blown stop to it and made workers leave site.
    Just call your council and worksafe and they will take care of things for you.
    Cheers!

    • -1 vote

      At moment they only have site srape and retaining wall approval. The changes to plans will delay full building permit. As we are going to object. Oh.. Fun

  •  

    Better sell and move.Dealing with inconsiderate yobbos on a construction site, complaints VCAT council and the dozens of tenants next door doesn't sound appealing.

    •  

      Difficult to get a good price at this stage of development!

    •  

      Bit late for us to move. Best we can do is get them to build it as soon as possible, but they have put in an amendment to the plan, so here we go again.

  •  

    When the council is open, pay them a visit or give them a call. They can answer everything you have in question.

  •  

    As I mentioned earlier, Council are unlikely to get involved. Even if a Planning Permit has been issued, that's generally as far as Council will be involved until the completion stage. They'll check completed building compliance, any asset damage and repairs, etc. They'll stay away from the actual building process and interaction between the site and neighbours.

    There's even more reason for them to take a step back if a Building Surveyor has prepared the paperwork.

    You could complain to Council until you're blue in the face, get your local ward councillor, get the State MP, etc involved but it would still fall to a civil matter between you and the builder, which you'll need to pursue at VCAT, VBA etc.

    It's a different story if the builder is building not in accordance to endorsed plans. But as I mentioned earlier, you'll really need to take ownership of the issue and any resultant actions against builder damaging/altering/impacting your property.

    Analogy: VicRoads gives a driver a licence to drive, they then crash into your car. No point in you going after VicRoads for damage that that driver did to your car. It's a civil matter (generally) but the saving grace in that situation is you have insurance that takes care of the admin/heartache/discussion. Council won't provide the mediation service nor will it fight on your behalf - they'll only respond to a breach of a clearly defined issue that they have jurisdiction for/over.

    Again, take ownership of your issue, document everything and then use in the most relevant avenue (eg. VCAT / Magistrate Court). Even if Council agreed with you, they are powerless to compel the builder to rectify your issue unless that item has specifically been stated in the Planning Permit. EG. Fence to be replaced <- unlikely to be included

    I only re-raise the Council involvement to manage expectations of what they can provide.

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