Man wins £532k from company that built basement under neighbor’s house

Caption: Man wins £4,000,000 from company who built his basement under neighbor's house. Credit: Champion News

Alex MacPhail’s £4million new build reached 18 inches into its neighbors’ land (Image: Champion News)

A multimillionaire who sued the developers of his new home after they built the basement under his neighbor’s house has to pay back more than £530,000, a court has ruled.

Alex MacPhail, 55, has been accused of orchestrating a secret “land grab” by his neighbors Tom and Helen Gueterbock as his £4million, six-bed property in Wandsworth, south-west London, was completed.

They accused him of trespassing as builders tunneled 18 inches across the boundary line and completed the basement under the flank wall of their home in 2018.

A passageway between her home and the new property, which replaced a post-war block of flats, had also been narrowed to less than a meter, impeding access to her side door and back garden.

Mr MacPhail, who gave up his career as a town merchant to become a motivational speaker, had invested £2.5million in the development, which saw a number of other houses built for other investors on adjacent plots in keeping with the street’s Edwardian style.

A lengthy legal battle ensued, with the couple asking Mr MacPhail to fill in part of the basement and partially demolish the house in order to move it a few inches away.

Last year he agreed to pay Mr Gueterbock, a web entrepreneur, £237,000 in damages and costs after paying around £283,000 of his own legal fees and agreed to fund £12,000 for work on the passageway.

Mr MacPhail then took the developer, Henderson Court Ltd (HCL), to court but declined liability – arguing he had engaged in a “home build”.

Champion News Service Ltd. Tel: 07948286566 / 07914583378 Alex MacPhail, outside Central London County Court during the basement row hearing.

A former City dealer, Mr MacPhail now works as a motivational speaker (Image: Champion News)

Champion News Service Ltd Tel: 07948286566 / 07914583378 Tom Gueterbock, who is suing neighbor Alex MacPhail for building a house in Henderson Road, Wandsworth

Mr Guetenbock brought a trespassing lawsuit against his neighbor (Picture: Champion News)

The company claimed it was merely a holding company and not the “developer” of the property, and that the works were being managed by a third party.

But a judge found the “overwhelming conclusion from the evidence that HCL performed the work.”

The fact that the company was only entitled to payment after the work was completed showed that “a contract existed between Mr. MacPhail and HCL and that such contract contained an obligation on HCL to do the work in a good and workmanlike manner”. said Nicholas Parfitt of Central London District Court.

It ruled that the developer, Henderson Court Ltd (HCL), should cover all of Mr MacPhail’s losses in the case, estimated at £532,000.

While the breach was not intentional, it was “not accidental” so HCL’s insurer could not pay the bill on its behalf, the judge added.

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Justin Scacco

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