What should I do if I have received a Party Wall Notice?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
The Party wall etc. Act 1996 provides the framework for avoiding or dealing with party wall disputes between neighbours. The Act requires that building owners serve a notice upon their neighbours, notifying them of their intention to carry out building works which are notifiable under the Act. This gives the neighbours (the adjoining owners) a chance to agree, disagree and ensure that your property is protected.
What building works are 'Notifiable' under the Act?
If you have received a Party Wall Notice, it means that your neighbour (the building owner) is proposing to carry out building works which may effect your property. Typical building works which are notifiable include:
A Rear, Side or Loft Extension
A Basement, Garage or Loft Conversion
Demolition or Alteration of shared floors/ceilings
Roofing works and Chimney Breast Removals
Building Boundary or Garden Walls
Excavating for Foundations within close proximity
What options do I have to respond as an adjoining owner?
As an adjoining owner (neighbour) you have 3 Options to respond to a Party Wall Notice as detailed below.
Option 1 - To Consent to the proposed works by essentially reserving your rights under The Party Wall etc. Act 1996, allowing the building owner to commence works upon expiry of the served Notice/s or earlier by agreement. It is still recommended that a Schedule of Condition is carried out with this option to have proof of the condition of your property prior to the commencement of works.
Option 2 - To Dissent and appoint your own surveyor, where both parties will appoint a surveyor to protect their interests. The two appointed surveyors will then agree upon a 'Party Wall Award' which is a legally binding document governing the proposed works. Under the provisions of the act, the building owner proposing the works will usually be responsible for your surveyor's reasonable fees.
If you do not respond within 14 days, there will be a deemed dispute and this option will be triggered and you will need to appoint a surveyor to resolve the dispute.
Your appointed surveyor will check the proposed plans, carry out a site inspection, prepare a Schedule of Condition Report, make any necessary changes to the works for your benefit and both surveyors will then prepare a party wall agreement (the Award).
If you disagree with the Party Wall Award served by the 'Two Surveyors', both you and your neighbour have 14 days to appeal to the county court against it.
Option 3 - To Dissent and concur in the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor, where only one surveyor will act impartially for both owners. The agreed surveyor will carry out the site inspection, prepare a Schedule of Condition Report and draw up a 'Party Wall Award', setting out how and when the works are to be carried out.
What if I do not respond to the Party Wall Notice?
If you do not respond to the Party Wall Notice received within 14 days, the building owners may serve a further notice giving you an additional 10 days to respond. If you fail to respond or refuse to appoint a surveyor, the building owners can appoint a surveyor on your behalf to resolve the 'deemed dispute'.
Choosing a Party Wall Surveyor
Under the Act, a party wall 'surveyor' can be any person who is not a party to the works, therefore property owners cannot act as a surveyor, although they can invoke the Act by serving the notices. However, the surveyor should be experienced in Construction and have knowledge of the procedures under the Act.
At UNEK Building Consultants, our Party Wall Surveyors include members of The Chartered Institute of Building, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and The Pyramus & Thisbe Club for Party Walls.
If you have received a party wall notice and would like to discuss matters or appoint a qualified Party Wall Surveyor, get in touch with our Neighbourly Matters team who would be more then happy to give you advice, help protect your property and resolve your party wall dispute.