What do I do if I receive a Notice?
If you have received a Party Wall Notice, your neighbour is planning to carry out works to their property that could affect your own property.
Typically, the works could be an extension, a loft conversion, a basement conversion, internal alterations such as the removal of a chimney breast or a combination of these. The Party Wall Notice should specify the works your neighbour wishes to undertake and you must respond within 14 days. If you ignore the Notice, a surveyor can be appointed on your behalf without your consent.
The purpose of the Act is primarily to allow the Building Owner (i.e. your neighbour) to undertake works to their property whilst minimising the impact on your property. The Act also allows the Adjoining Owner (i.e. yourself) to have some input into the works that can be carried out that affect your property (for example, whether a new extension wall can be built astride the boundary) and most importantly, to have a ‘Schedule of Condition’ survey taken of your property prior to the commencement of works. This will ensure that if any damage is caused during the course of the works, it is easily identifiable. The Building Owner will be responsible for the cost of repair of any damage found to be caused by the works. The fees of the surveyors drawing up the award will, under all normal circumstances, be paid by the party undertaking the works (the Building Owner).
You can respond in one of three ways: –
1) Consent to the works
If the works are minor and non-structural you may feel you do not need to engage a surveyor at all, you may wish to simply ‘concur to the works. This will enable the works to commence straight away and you will save your neighbour the cost of the surveyor’s fee. However, if any damage is caused or a dispute arises, it may be more difficult to get the damage repaired. We would generally not recommend this approach for anything other than minor works.
2) Dissent* to the works and appoint an agreed surveyor
You may dissent from the works and agree to the surveyor suggested by the Building Owner. The agreed surveyor will arrange to carry out a Schedule of Condition, including a full photographic survey and subsequently draw up an Award.
It is important to note that the surveyor should not work as an advocate for either party, a Party Wall Surveyor simply administers the Act and he must do so impartially and fairly. If the suggested surveyor is acting as project manager for the Building Owner, we would strongly recommend that you do not appoint them as an agreed surveyor.
If we are appointed as agreed surveyor we will ensure that the risk to your property is minimised to the lowest possible level, that accurate photographs are taken and that a comprehensive Schedule of Condition survey is undertaken. We subsequently serve the Party Wall Award detailing the rights and duties which includes the Schedule of Condition survey of your property and the drawings showing the proposed works.
3) Dissent* and appoint your own surveyor
You may dissent from the works and appoint your own surveyor. The cost of preparing the Schedule of Condition and your surveyor’s fees are, in all normal circumstances, paid by the person undertaking the work.
In this event the two surveyors will firstly agree a Third Surveyor to adjudicate between them if they cannot agree, the two surveyors will then take the Schedule of Condition survey of your property and produce the Award in exactly the same way as the agreed surveyor would do.
Please feel free to telephone 0203 170 6182 between 9:00am and 5:00pm and we will be happy to discuss any query you may have. If we are unable to take your call, please leave a message and a member of the team will call you back as soon as possible.
*‘Dissent’ is the wording used in the Act: it does not mean that you are not happy for your neighbours to carry out the works or that you are causing disruption to their works.