If you have been served a party wall notice it is because your neighbour wants to undertake work on their property that could affect your property. This work could involve any of the following:
•build on or at the boundary of your property
•carry out work on an existing party wall
•dig below or near the foundation of their property
•build a new wall
•cut into a party wall
•make a party wall taller/shorter/deeper
•remove a chimney from a party wall
•knock down and rebuild a party wall
•build an extension or basement
If the works are governed by the Party Wall Act, they will need to serve you with a
party wall notice. This must be done at least two months before the notifiable
works begin, and at least one month before the notifiable excavation works begin.
Notifiable work is either building work which affects a party wall or boundary line, or excavations within three or six metres of a neighbouring property (depending on the depth of the foundations). This will include most extensions and basement and loft conversions.
In reality you don’t have to do anything until a notice is served by the building owner and then you have the option to appoint any party wall surveyor you choose or to agree to the work.
You have options if this happens:
1. You may consent in writing to a notice and allow the works to continue without the need for surveyors to be appointed and an award to be made;
2. consenting to a notice does not affect your rights under the Act should a dispute relating to the works subsequently arise, and at that subsequent time if necessary, a surveyor of your choosing can be appointed;
3. as the adjoining owner it usually costs you nothing to have a surveyor to protect your interests, as the person doing the work normally pays all the fees.
4. once an appointment form is signed agreeing to a surveyor’s appointment, that appointment cannot be rescinded, as per section 10(2) of the Act.
Contact us if :
• You have just been served a ‘Notice’.
• A neighbour has, or is about to start work and has not served a ‘Notice’ when you feel one ought to have been served.
We can, on your behalf:
• Serve Party Wall Notices.
• Act on your behalf if the Building Owner refuses to engage the Act.
We ensure that our Clients are fully aware of their obligations and rights under the Act and in this capacity we ensure that all appropriate notices are served, designs are correctly considered, the appropriate schedules are produced and all necessary duties are discharged by both the building owner and adjoining owner, depending upon our appointment.
The Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor’s Tasks
Some of the tasks that the adjoining owner’s surveyor is responsible for carrying out and charging for include:
• Review of the initial notice and any associated drawings
• The exchange of appointment letters and selection of a third surveyor
• Assessment of the adjoining owner’s property condition.
• Agreement of any outstanding points with the building owner’s surveyor
• Review and approval of the fair copies of the award
Note that the final two tasks on the list above are completed after the fee is agreed, which means the total time spent for each of said tasks is estimated.
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 website.
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.