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How Soon Should I Serve A Party Wall Notice?

Updated: Mar 20

We are often approached by Building Owners that have scheduled to have an extension or loft conversion, only to find out that their neighbour has requested something called a ‘party wall agreement’.

In a lot of cases, owners are completely unaware of their responsibilities under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and unless they’ve been adequately advised by their architect during the design stage, or carried out their own exhaustive research, why would they be?

In our opinion, the short answer is - as soon as possible.

party wall clock ticking

Understanding the Timeframe

In cases where the Adjoining Owner does not respond to the notice, the Act stipulates a "deemed dissent" and grants them 10 days to appoint a surveyor. If they fail to respond again, the process can take approximately 30 days before an Adjoining Owners Surveyor is appointed and the Award preparation commences.

In such situations, the entire process can easily take two to three months to resolve before construction can commence. More complex projects may experience further delays.

Importance of Early Service

As a general guideline, we advise Building Owners to serve party wall notices at the time of their planning application submission. This approach is based on the assumption that the planning application is relatively straightforward and likely to be approved, and that the works can commence soon after permission is granted. In our experience, this strategy helps minimize delays caused by party wall matters.

Advantages of Early Service

Serving the notice(s) at the planning submission stage offers two key advantages:

  1. Allowing the notice period to elapse: By serving the notice early, the notice period will almost certainly pass before the planning decision is made. A full planning application typically takes 8-10 weeks from submission. It's important to note that serving notice does not automatically incur surveyor costs if the neighbour dissents. You can request the surveyor(s) to pause the process until you receive planning approval and are ready to proceed. Most surveyors will not charge for their time if they are informed of your intention to hold proceedings at the outset.

  2. Consulting with your neighbour: Neighbours appreciate being consulted about construction projects, and it can help alleviate concerns. Engaging in early discussions about the planning and party wall processes shows a proactive approach and increases the chances of obtaining their consent to the notice. It also helps prevent the negative impact of unsolicited letters from Party Wall Surveyors, who often highlight risks and can create unnecessary disputes. By speaking directly with your neighbour, you can address their concerns and assure them that you will fulfil your legal obligations by serving notice.

It's important to reassure owners that you will engage a reputable local surveyor to handle the party wall matters. Signing any document without proper explanation can raise concerns. At Charterhouse Surveying, our notice packages include a comprehensive FAQ section that provides unbiased information, enabling the Adjoining Owner to make an informed decision.

In summary, discussing your proposals with your neighbour and serving notice at an early stage improves the chances of avoiding disputes. This approach can lower the overall cost of the party wall process and minimize delays.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

When do party wall notices expire?

- Party wall notices are valid for one year from the date of service.

What is the notice period for party structure works and excavations?

- The notice period for party structure works is two months, while for excavations, it is one month.

What happens if the Adjoining Owner does not respond to the notice?

- If the Adjoining Owner does not respond, it is considered a "deemed dissent," and they are given 10 days to appoint a surveyor.

When is the best time to serve the party wall notice?

- Serving the notice at the planning application submission stage is recommended, as it allows the notice period to elapse before the planning decision is made.

Why is it beneficial to consult with neighbours early on?

- Consulting with neighbours early helps establish a positive relationship, reduces the risk of disputes, and increases the likelihood of obtaining their consent to the notice.

Proper service of party wall notices and documents is essential for a successful construction project. Understanding the procedures, adhering to the notice periods, and engaging in early discussions with neighbours can help ensure a smooth process and minimize potential conflicts. If you need a party wall surveyor for your project, or simply require some advice on a party wall matter, please feel free to contact us at 020 8306 0680 or via our contact page.

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