Does the Party Wall etc. Act affect you?
DO YOU INTEND TO CARRY OUT WORK WHICH INVOLVES:
● Work on an existing wall, ceiling or floor structure shared with another property?
● Building on or at the boundary with another property?
● Excavating near a neighbouring building or structure?
If so, you must find out whether the work falls within the scope of the Act.
If it does you must serve the statutory notice on all those defined in the Act
(It's a good idea to serve notice before you make a Planning Application or your neighbours will receive letters from other surveyors encouraging them to dissent and appoint them).
Party Walls or Party Structures are defined as one of the below:
● A wall that ‘straddles’ the boundary line between two premises is a party
wall, even if it has not been built against and does not form a part of the
● A wall that divides two premises and forms a part of the structure of both is
a party wall. This applies even if only part of the wall forms a part of the
● A flank wall of a building that has been built against is a party wall to the
extent that both premises use it. This means part of the wall can be a party
wall and part might not be. This is the case even if the enclosure was done
after the building was originally built.
● A garden wall straddling the boundary is called a Party Fence Wall — repair
costs will be shared under the Act.
● Other parts of a building may be party structures and need similar process
and notices — for instance the floor between two flats is a party structure.
Determining if a particular building project is within the scope of the Act is often
more complex than simply checking the general criteria stated above. Failure to
correctly identify the status of your project could result in the building works
being unlawful. If you are in any doubt you should always seek professional advice.
As a Party Wall Surveyor I can:
● advise on the correct Party Wall process
● Serve Party Wall Notices
● act as your appointed Surveyor
● also act impartially as the Agreed Surveyor for both parties (Building Owner
Information provided for notice:
Our Notices are prepared based upon the drawings and information provided to us
by the Building Owner or their consultant(s).
We do not automatically make a prior inspection to verify the drawings and we will make enquiries and reasonable assumptions to obtain any information which is not provided but we cannot be responsible for any losses that may arise from any defects with the notices arising from errors or omissions in the information provided. If requested to do so we will make a prior inspection but this would incur an additional fee.
If structural engineering drawings are not available, to assist and for no additional fee, we will annotate designers drawings to show information relating to excavation depths necessary to validate a Notice of Adjacent Excavation. We will do this based on our judgement but we will not accept responsibility for any losses arising from this, therefore, if this risk is to be avoided notices should not be served until adequate engineering information is available.
The Party Wall Act requires that notice be served on any person who has a tenancy agreement of more than 1 year and such tenants would not be listed on the Land Registry. We would serve notice on owners who are listed on the Land Registry and any other persons or entities that you advise us are owners. We would also make enquiries with freeholders when and if they respond to our notices but we would not accept responsibility for failing to serve notice on adjoining owners that, following the above process, we are not aware of.
When a Notice is served on the neighbouring properties (Adjoining Owners) they have three options:
Consent to the works, in which instance no further action is required,
condition of the neighbouring property prior to the works commencing.
Option 2: Dissent to the notice, but agree upon the same surveyor as the
individual(s) undertaking the works.
Option 3: Dissent to the notice and appoint their own surveyor. Under the Act, in most scenarios, the person(s) carrying out the works (building Owner) are responsible for the fees for the neighbours surveyor.
With options 2 and 3 a schedule of condition
is produced of the neighbouring property which is in close proximity to the works. The schedule of condition acts as a record of the properties condition prior to the works commencing, if any damage is caused to the neighbouring property which is attributable to the notifiable works the Building Owner will be at liberty to make good. A Party Wall Award
will also be produced which will lay out the rights and duties of the parties with regards to the party wall.
WE HAVE TRIED TO MAKE OUR FEE STRUCTURE AS STRAIGHTFORWARD AS POSSIBLE BUT THE FEES DEPEND UPON THE TYPE OF WORKS PROPOSED AND THE NEIGHBOURS RESPONSE TO THE NOTICE
Payment of fees: Fees are payable in full upon delivery of the signed Party Wall Awards or Agreements (*even if a subsequent final inspection is included).
You can use a Procedure Flow Chart which may be helpful in determining the approach you should take for your particular project.
You can of course serve the relevant documents on your neighbours yourself. Use the example letters in the government's Party Wall booklet (PDF). Be sure to fill in the blanks correctly, otherwise the notice will not be valid.
Don't assume you know who owns the house next door. Get details of all the current legal owners from the Land Registry
You can get 30 minutes worth of free advice from the RICS
helpline (020 7222 7000) and the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (01424 883300). They may forward you to local members.
Regardless of who appoints the Surveyor, he is obliged by the Act to act impartially on behalf of both the building owner and adjoining owner.
It's the law!
Failure to comply with this legislation may result in the works being unlawful. If you are unsure you should seek professional advice.
Party Wall Advice
I would hope to eventually publish a collection of questions and answers on all things Party Wall related by way of helping others who may have similar queries.
I would urge you to include only the relevant information as short questions are much more likely to receive a quick response. Please note that this is an Email ONLY service.
Unfortunately we cannot advise you on boundary disputes that you may be involved in as Party Wall Surveyors are restricted to party wall matters.