Couple ordered to demolish £80,000 extension after miniscule 68mm blunder

A couple have been ordered to tear down their extension because it is 68mm too close to their neighbour's garden.

Shabaz Ashraf, 45, and his wife Shakira, 40, were ordered by a judge to remove the extension on their £700,000 London home.

The pair claim it cost approximately £80,000 to rip down the 1970s extension at the Redridge property and replace it with a modern version.

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But neighbours, and former friends, Avtar Dhinjan and his wife Balvinder complained the build was two inches over the property line.

Mr and Mrs Dhinjan, backed by their son Gurpreet, said the new extension strayed 68mm or 2.68 inches onto their land with an overhang at roof level 98mm or 3.86 inches on the wrong side of the line.

Mr Dhinjan claimed his neighbours "intended to annoy" him and his family by building over the boundary between their homes in 2019.

While they acknowledged the “encroachment” is minute, he claims it is causing dampness and mould in his property by preventing air circulation.

The case was taken before Central London County Court as the Dhinjans demanded an injunction forcing the Ashrafs to demolish the encroaching wall.

Now Judge Richard Roberts has granted them victory, slamming their "high-handed" neighbours for "trespassing" and ordering them to knock down the offending wall and move it back.

Mr and Mrs Ashraf had defended the case, saying they built the new extension on the footprint of the 1970s one and that any encroachment must have already been going on for more than 40 years, giving them squatters' rights.

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But Rachel Coyle, for the Dhinjans, told the judge that the 2019 rebuild went beyond the footprint of the old extension and as a result "flush" against the outer wall of their house.

"There was an encroachment which, while de minims in valuation terms, causes significant injury to the land belonging to the claimants," argued their barrister.

"The defendants’ continued course of conduct intended to annoy.

"Only removal and building it where it should be will prevent mould and dampness, failing which the claimants' extension will become virtually uninhabitable.

"The injury is not one that can be compensated in money," she said.

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Giving his ruling, the judge said: "One of the sad features of the case is that before the parties began building new extensions to the rear of their property, they lived in harmony and were on good terms.

"The defendants say they built the wall in exactly the same position as the previous wall, which was in position for 41 years. I find that that is, to the defendants’ knowledge, wholly untrue.

"The joint expert surveyor concluded in his report there was an encroachment of 68mm.

"I can see from the pictures that the breeze blocks have been built outside the existing boundary, so the notion that they built inside the existing boundary line is not sustainable because the pictures show where the existing boundary line is. Their new wall is clearly outside that wall.

“The wall erected by the defendants is encroaching on the claimants’ land.

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“The claimants put their case for an injunction on this basis. They say this is a case where the defendants acted in a high-handed manner throughout and have deliberately overridden the claimants when they were saying there was an encroachment on their land.”

The judge said he would make an injunction, directing the Ashrafs to remove their extension wall.

He also told them to reinstate a fencepost they removed and made a declaration that the fence between the two houses belongs to the Dhinjans.

As well as having to pay their own costs, he ordered Mr and Mrs Ashraf to pay their neighbours' lawyers bills – estimated at almost £100,000, with £49,009 upfront.

The total cost of the case was estimated by lawyers outside court at around £200,000, on top of which Mr and Mrs Ashraf will face the costs of tearing apart and rebuilding their extension.


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