Building onto or damaging adjoining wall


A landowner, while constructing buildings and other structures, must make reasonable and proper use of his/her property.  In, Ainsworth v. Lakin, [i] the Court held that, landowner has a duty to use reasonable care to prevent structures from becoming dangerous to adjoining owners.  However, a landowner has right to build up foundation for proposed building to any height.  But in the absence of a party wall, a foundation should be laid and built upon and supported by its own premises.[ii] Additionally,  with regards to a fill made on landowner’s premises above the natural surface, he cannot use the wall on land of adjoining owner as an artificial support.

In, Miller v. McClelland, [iii] the plaintiff and defendants were the owners of adjoining lots. Plaintiff constructed on her lot a building and a party wall.  Defendant, while constructing on his lot piled the filling material against the plaintiff’s wall without making any provision for the protection of her wall or building.  The defendant’s lot sloped down bringing injury to plaintiff’s wall and building.  The Court held that the defendant was liable for causing injury to plaintiff’s wall.  The Court observed that defendant is entitled to build up a foundation for his proposed building to such height as he pleased.  But in the absence of a party wall such foundation should be supported by defendant’s own premises.  Also, defendant has no right to use the party wall as an artificial support for a fill made on his premises above the natural surface of his lot.

[i] 180 Mass. 397 (Mass. 1902)

[ii] Miller v. McClelland, 173 N.W. 910

[iii]173 N.W. 910