Posted: 16/09/2013 at 15:09
Can anyone help please? We recently moved into an old property with solid walls. We have a kitchen extension (built by a previous owner), and the left hand wall is very damp. Every time it rains, plaster falls off the wall and the ceiling just above it. A mason who did some work for us identified 2 problems. The first was that the wall was rendered in concrete, which had cracked and was letting water in. Since the water couldn't escape again, it was trapped, and when he took the plaster off he discovered considerable frost damage to the bricks. To remedy it, he suggested removing the old plaster and re-rendering in lime to let the water escape. To do this we needed our neighbour's permission. After much complaining and threatening to sue us if we damaged his plants, he agreed to let us do it if our guys finished it within the week that he and his wife were away on holiday. The guys managed it, even plastering in the rain to get it done! But they identified a second problem that we don't know how to fix. Our neighbour's garden has been built up to a level a few inches higher than our kitchen floor. This includes a patio edging and a flower bed, which are right against the wall. Our guys said that this is bridging our internal damp proof course, and preventing a specialist from injecting an extenernal damp course. They said that unless our neighbour lowered his patio and bed by a few inches, and allowed a damp course to be injected, rising damp would ensure that an already saturated wall would remain wet. A damp proof specialist and a structural surveyor confirmed that this is correct.
When our neighbour returned from holiday, we explained the situation and asked if he would lower his garden level a little. He said over his dead body, that we are upsetting his wife, he will sue us for trespass if anyone goes into his garden even to look at the wall, and asked us to leave.
Please does anyone have any ideas? We're rather at the end of our rope! We don't want to go down the litigation route, as you hear stories of neighbours running up tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees, but we can't leave the wall the way it is. As well as worrying about an already fragile wall, we're concerned about the damp in the roof rafters.