Do I need to serve a party wall notice?
If you are carrying out significant works affecting a party wall (e.g. a basement extension, a loft conversion, or chimney removal), you must notify your neighbour before the works begin and obtain their permission. If an agreement is not granted you need to obtain a Party Wall Award under The Party Wall Etc. Act 1996.
Our experienced surveyors will ensure that all necessary party wall notices are issued, undertake interim inspections of the work and sign-off the works as complete at the end of the project.
I’ve received a party wall notice – what do I do?
Once you’ve been served a party wall notice, you have three options:
- Agree to the works
- Dissent to the works and appoint the building owner’s surveyor as an ‘Agreed Surveyor’
- Dissent to the works and appoint your own surveyor as an ‘Adjoining Owners Surveyor’
We can act as your Adjoining Owners Surveyor, and, although slightly more costly, this option often results in a quicker conclusion of Party Wall Awards.
Meet your party wall expert
Jon Ranson, HND, BSc, MRICS, MSc CHE, MFPWS
Jon Ranson, HND, BSc, MRICS, MSc CHE, MFPWS
Jon's experience covers a range surveying duties, including party wall matters, construction monitoring, architectural design and schedules of condition and dilapidation.
What is a party wall?
As explained on gov.uk, party walls stand on the land of two or more owners and either:
- Form part of a building,
- Doesn’t form part of a building but is a shared wall or structure, such as a garden wall (not wooden fences).
If you don’t obtain the necessary agreement or Awards with final sign-off, problems can arise during the resale of your property which could potentially result in a reduction of the agreed purchase price, or, in the worst case scenario, the sale falling through.
What works require a party wall?
The Act covers:
- New building on or at the boundary of two properties,
- Work to an existing party wall or party structure,
- Excavation near to and below the foundation level of neighbouring buildings.
This may include:
- Building a new wall on, or at the boundary of, two properties,
- Cutting into a party wall for provision of a beam,
- Making a party wall taller, shorter, deeper or wider,
- Removing chimney breasts or other projections from a party wall,
- Demolishing and rebuilding a party wall,
- Excavating below the foundation level of a neighbour’s property within three metres of the excavation.
You don’t need to tell your neighbour (the adjoining owner) about minor changes, such as plastering, adding or replacing electrical wiring or sockets, or drilling to put up shelves or cabinets.
What do our RICS Party Wall Surveyors do?
We will ensure that all necessary party wall notices are issued, relevant surveyors appointments made and schedule of conditions are prepared. We also draft and serve Party Wall Awards, to ensure your project runs as smoothly as possible.
The Party Wall Award document explains what works will be carried out, describes how the work will be carried out, and specifies any protective measures required to prevent damage. The award generally includes a record of the condition of the adjoining property, so that any associated damage caused by the works can be identified and damages fairly awarded.
We will then undertake interim inspections of the work and at the end of the project sign-off the works as complete.
For more information, simply contact us on 0333 9200 583 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who pays the surveyor fees?
The building owner undertaking the work is normally responsible for covering all costs and professional fees associated with compliance with the Act.
The adjoining owner may have to pay a share of the cost if the work needs to be done because of defects or lack of repair. Or, if they ask for additional works to be carried out that benefit them they will normally have a cost to pay.
1. Agree to the works
If you are served a notice and you agree to the works you must provide consent in writing within 14 days.
This is not always the best cause of action because often construction proposals at the time of issuing notice are not suitably developed and disagreements can occur at a later date due to misunderstanding of the proposals.
It’s normally better to dissent the notice to ensure you have the protection of the Party Wall Act via an Award rather than relying on a personal claim if things go wrong.
2. Dissent to the works and appoint the Building Owner’s Surveyor as an ‘Agreed Surveyor’
If this happens the surveyor is duty bound to be impartial and appease the interests of both properties, which in some cases can prolong the process.
This is suitable for simple party wall matters and offers cost savings to the building owner who otherwise may not be able to commence a construction project. The downside of this is that if there are concerns regarding the actions of the Agreed Surveyor there is no recourse other than to attempt to overturn an award in court, which can be costly and time consuming.
3. Dissent to the works and appoint your own surveyor as an ‘Adjoining Owners Surveyor’
This does result in increased costs to the building owner but offers all parties in the process the benefits of reference to a named Third Surveyor who arbitrates any disputes of the Act that arise.
Although slightly more costly, this option often results in a quicker conclusion of Party Wall Awards because the two appointed surveyors have a good understanding of the Act and work proactively. Above all two heads are better than one!