Party Wall FAQs - Adjoining Owner
If your neighbour is planning to have notifiable work done or has served you with a Party Wall Notice you may have some queries. The following may answer some of your questions;
What Is A Party Wall Notice & Why Have I Received It??
A Party Wall Notice is a legal document sent to you, by your neighbour (the Building Owner) informing you that they wish to carry out works that would involve one of the following;
to construct a wall along the boundary (Line of Junction)
works to a wall or structure that separates your two properties
to excavate for foundations etc. within a certain distance of structures on your property
Your neighbour must serve these Notices (and in some cases provide drawings) at a set period of time before they wish to carry out the works, enabling you to have time to consider what is being proposed and how it could affect you & your property
What Options Do I Have?
What happens next is solely your decision and you should be presented with several options and a brief explanation of each is below;
Take this option only if you are happy with the works to proceed without any involvement from a Party Wall Surveyor, this will enable your neighbour to commence works as soon as the statutory Notice period has elapsed, or sooner if you agree.
We would always recommend that a Schedule of Condition is carried out even if your neighbour consents, as the next option explains.
This option means that you consent to your neighbour carrying out the works, but on the basis that a Schedule of Condition is carried out on your property. Although not a requirement under the Act, this option can afford both sides some future protection if things go wrong.
A Schedule of Condition involves a surveyor inspecting your property in the areas likely to be affected by your neighbour's works and noting any existing cracks or defects, or lack of.
Usually, this would involve approximately 150+ photos being taken and these are referenced in the report. If damage does occur as a result of the works, then this document can be used as a basis for establishing the extent of any
repairs or compensation that you may be due from the Building Owner (your neighbour).
(with Schedule of Condition)
If you are worried about the proposed works and feel as though an impartial professional should check what is being proposed and prepare the necessary documentation, then the following options may be more appropriate.
By Dissenting (not Consenting) you and your neighbour are deemed to be ‘in dispute’ and will need to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor, in accordance with the Act – with this option only one surveyor would be appointed to act impartially for both sides as an ‘Agreed Surveyor’.
The Agreed Surveyor will prepare a legal document called a Party Wall Award which provides a binding framework to ensure the works covered by the Act are planned to be carried out in a diligent way and give a means of recourse if not.
The Award settles the ‘dispute’ in a way that protects your interests but still enables the works to proceed in a reasonable time frame. A Schedule of Condition would be carried out with this option
By choosing the two surveyor option you are signalling that you dissent to the Notice (as option 3 above) and would like a Party Wall Award to be prepared. In this case, you are requesting that two surveyors are appointed, one for each owner. The two surveyors would then check the documents, settle any disagreements and prepare the Award. A Schedule of Condition
would automatically be carried out with this option also.
What Happens If I Don’t Reply?
Under the Act, you have a statutory period of 14 days to send back the signed acknowledgment, indicating your wishes in this matter. If you fail to do so, you will have automatically ‘dissented’ and a Party Wall Surveyor will be appointed on your behalf if you do not appoint your own surveyor within a further 10 days – this enables the matter to move ahead under a reasonable time frame.
Who Pays For The Surveyors Time?
In the vast majority of cases, the Building Owner (your neighbour) will have to pay the surveyors fees, including the costs of carrying out the Schedule of Condition and preparation of any Award.
The only time this could change is if you (as the Adjoining Owner) take up more of the surveyor’s time that they feel is ‘reasonable’ for resolving the matter at hand, or if you choose your own surveyor and he is deemed to have acted unreasonably or incompetently
What Will I Have To Pay?
As the Adjoining Owner may choose one of several options, providing an exact final cost at this stage is not possible. However, we will always provide you with a breakdown of the costs of each element and you will only be charged for the work that is actually required.
Still unsure? Feel free to contact us for free, impartial advice