Protection work – stuff you need to know
By Alex Wood
By Danielle Warfe
17 January 2020
What is it?
Protection work is the additional work put in place to protect people and adjoining properties from construction activity. Protection work needs agreement from the owners of adjoining properties because, being next door, their properties may be affected by your construction activity. This can sometimes be tricky, so we’ve provided some tips gleaned from projects over the years that can help the process run more smoothly.
Do you need it?
There are a number of triggers for protection work, but they generally encompass:
- any work on or near a boundary, e.g. a wall, a masonry fence, or an excavation,
- any demolition or excavation work that could structurally compromise other premises (where “premises” includes land and buildings), and
- any work that could pose a hazard to people, e.g. falling objects or deep excavations.
What you need for it
If you’re doing building work on your property that triggers the need for protection work, then you need to inform your neighbours that you’re taking appropriate measures to protect them and their premises:
- You need to give your adjoining owners a Form 6 Notice of Protection Work. The Form 6 describes the protection work program and what will be done to prevent construction activity from affecting their premises. It usually needs input from your builder (and possible a structural engineer) and will need to be agreed upon and signed by each adjoining owner.
- You will also need a condition report of your neighbours’ premises. This report sets a benchmark of existing condition and is used to quantify any changes to the premises that may result from your construction activity. The condition report needs agreement from the owners of the adjoining premises and can be added to the Form 6 as part of the protection work program and be scheduled to occur immediately before work commences.
- And you will need protection work insurance that covers any damage to the adjoining properties, or liability to the adjoining owners, that might be caused by the protection work itself. The amount of insurance also needs agreement from each adjoining owner.
So to summarise, you need agreement from your neighbours on the protection work program, the existing condition of their premises, and the amount of insurance. Your neighbours’ agreement means they are satisfied their premises will not be adversely affected by your building work and they are covered should any adverse effects happen.
We have found that neighbours’ confidence in protection work can be improved by:
- Engaging your design structural engineer to confirm the protection work program is adequate.
- Engaging your design (or an independent) structural engineer to conduct the condition assessments.
- Providing the building approval with the Form 6 to demonstrate the building work has been independently assessed.
Your neighbours have prescribed timeframes to consider the evidence and agree to it: 2 weeks for the insurance and condition report, and 3 weeks for the Form 6. They can also ask for further information for the Form 6 and then have more time to consider the new information.
And your building surveyor may get involved to assist in gathering extra information and reaching agreement. But we are unable to authorise building work to begin until this process is complete and protection has been agreed upon by all parties. Which can take some time.
In our experience, the protection work process takes substantially longer when a party feels like their concerns are not being addressed. Because it can involve people’s homes it can sometimes be a subjective and potentially emotional process, but it is in everyone’s interests to keep time, costs and stress to a minimum so it is worth entering into with a willingness to negotiate.
If protection work is not in place and the unthinkable happens and something goes wrong, it does not end well: it can mean stopping work, and derailed plans, and neighbourly unpleasantness, and lawyers, and courts, and everything is most decidedly not groovy (to badly paraphrase Nick Cave). Having protection work in place is some of the best insurance you can have for your building project, so get in touch if you think you might need it.