The person who wishes to initiate any work on their side of a wall is described as the building owner. The owner(s) on the other side is an adjoining owner.
We recommend that building owners have their plans checked over by an experienced Party Wall Surveyor to confirm whether the works come within the scope of The Act. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 Explanatory Booklet, provides examples of work notifiable under The Act. Examples of work notifiable under The Act include:-
- Excavating foundations for your extension within 3m from your neighbour’s property.
- Laying underground drains within 3m of your neighbour’s property.
- Cutting into your party wall to insert steel beams for your loft conversion.
- Removing chimney breasts from the party wall.
- Under-pinning a party wall.
- Building a new garden wall up to the line of the boundary.
If having spoken to a Surveyor it becomes clear that your proposed works fall within The Act, as the building owner it will be necessary to serve a Party Wall Notice on the adjoining owner with the aim of obtaining their consent. Should consent not be forthcoming, there is deemed to be a dispute under The Act, at which point Surveyors must be appointed in order to resolve the dispute by way of a Party Wall Agreement. A Party Wall Notice can appear particularly formal and sometimes overwhelming for someone without knowledge of construction. We therefore advise building owners speak to their neighbours before serving a formal notice. Neighbours that feel well-informed are less likely to appoint their own Surveyor as a first port of call when a formal notice is served.
An owner planning to undertake works that fall within the scope of The Act should start planning early; notice periods are either one or two months, depending upon the type of work. Notifiable works should not be undertaken before the notice period has expired unless earlier consent is expressly provided by the adjoining owner.
We are able to serve a Notice for a flat fee of £95.00 per adjoining owner. The building owner is responsible for their own Surveyor’s fee. We provide a fixed fee for preparing and serving a Party Wall Award. It is also worth bearing in mind that as the building owner, you would normally be responsible for the fee of any Surveyor’s appointed by the adjoining owners. The adjoining owner’s Surveyor is required to indicate an hourly rate with the final fee being agreed with the building owner’s Surveyor.
If the adjoining owner consents to the Notice, you are not required to appoint a Surveyor. However, it would still be prudent to commission a Schedule of Condition covering the ‘at risk’ portions of your neighbour’s property. This would need to be agreed with the adjoining owner. An adjoining owner may look more closely for cracks once works commence next-door and may mistakenly believe that some existing cracks are new. The Act allows for the same Surveyor to be appointed by each of the owners; in that scenario, the Surveyor would act as the ‘agreed surveyor’ and impartially regulate matters affecting both owners. By having the Surveyor draw up the Notice, a building owner can increase their chances of having a Surveyor adopted as agreed which will help to keep the costs down on small projects.