Picture above - Neighbour's eye view of a major development
10 tips for party walls - Adjoining Owners
If your neighbour is planning to do work that could affect you or maybe has started work, here are 10 tips that may help you. If you are the Building Owner doing the work, these tips do not apply to you. Look here.
1 Check whether the Party Wall etc Act 1996 applies to your neighbour's work. If any of the following are true, the Act probably applies. a The neighbour is doing repairs, alterations or connecting something substantial to a party wall. In this case, a party wall includes a party chimney stack or similar. b The neighbour is building a new wall on the boundary line c The neighbour is doing excavations for works within 3 metres of any structure on your land where the new excavation is (or might be) deeper than the foundations for your structures. d Similar to (c) but over 3 metres deep and within 6 metres of your foundations. If you are not sure, we can advise. Remember that, despite its name, the Act can apply to walls that are not party walls. In some situations, it can also apply to other structures such as garden walls or patios - take advice if you are unsure. Also read this page.
2 I've received a notice - what do I do? If you've received a notice and you feel that the work is being properly planned and is not likely to cause you any real damage or disruption, you can simply agree but you must do that in writing. If you have concerns, you can dissent - see below.
3 What does dissent mean? Dissent sounds as though you are trying to stop the work taking place but that is not it's meaning. It simply means that you wish one or more surveyors to be appointed to control the situation and to make sure that all the procedures are put in place to take precautions against your building being damaged.
4 If I dissent, what are my options? You can agree to the Agreed Surveyor suggested by the Building Owner, you can suggest a different Agreed Surveyor or you can appoint your own Adjoining Owner's Surveyor. An Agreed Surveyor is normally appointed when there is only a moderate risk of damage or inconvenience. The Adjoining Owners Surveyor is usually only appointed when there is a higher risk of damage or some other reason that extra protection is required.
5 What if I don't reply to the Notice within the specified 14 days? If you don't reply, the Building Owner is required by the Act to appoint a, Adjoining Owner's Surveyor for you. That means that you do not have control over whether a surveyor is appointed and who it is. Therefore, if you do want surveyors to be appointed, it is in your interest to reply to the notice. If you wish to agree to the proposal, do so within 14 days otherwise, the Building Owner will have a legal obligation to appoint two surveyors with the corresponding high costs which might be unnecessary. They would not thank you for that.
6 Has enough information been provided? If the notice is not accompanied by plans or other information so that you can assess the risk to your building, ask for more information. If it does not arrive by the time the notice period expires, you should probably dissent so that surveyors can complete the process.
7 Is the Notice valid? If you think the Notice you've received is invalid, check with a professional and / or inform the Building Owner who sent the notice as it is important that all notices are not invalid.
8 I haven't received a notice and the work is about to start or work has started already. You should consult a party wall surveyor without delay. He will check whether the Act applies and will advise what action is possible and desirable.
9 I've received a letter from a firm in London suggesting that I should appoint them. By all means consider carefully whether a surveyor should be appointed but it is often not necessary. If surveyors are needed, choose one that is qualified, well experienced and local, Talk to a local qualified and experienced surveyor first before you take any decisions and then decide who to appoint. If you do choose one from a remote location without a good reason, you should expect the fees to be challenged and you could find yourself responsible for some of the extra costs.
10 What is the Act for? The purpose of the Act is to protect the interests of the Adjoining Owner. It does that by recording the condition of the building or structure with a schedule of condition and creating a formal legal agreement known as a Party Wall Award. That process is not always needed but, if you think it is, talk to a party wall surveyor who will be able to check whether the Act applies in your case and advise you whether you need to take any action.