Simmons Taylor Hall offer expert impartial advice to Party Wall and Neighbourly Matters
WHAT WE OFFER
Our team of Chartered Surveyors has extensive property experience. We advise the circumstances in which the Act will apply, as well as the procedures to be followed in line with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
We act as Party Wall Surveyors for building owners seeking to carry out ‘notifiable’ works and adjoining owners requiring notice. We serve and receive notices, prepare Schedules of Condition and prepare and agree Party Wall Awards. Our advice ensures work will be carried out in accordance with the legal obligations.
The Party Wall ect. Act 1996 provides an important regulatory framework for party walls and structures between properties. As such, it is imperative that you familiarise yourself with the requirements and take necessary steps to ensure compliance before work begins on site – even if only corrective measures are being taken.
The consent of both the building owner and adjoining home-owner is required before any work can be carried out on a party wall. This document must stipulate that you have permission in writing for whatever type or size project you’re working with, whether it’s remedial measures only or if there are potential future improvements too!
The legislation applies in England and Wales but does not extend into Scotland or Northern Ireland.
It’s vital to stay compliant to avoid any future disputes over who is liable for problems or damage to the wall.
Under the Party Wall Act a building owner must serve notice before starting building works on an existing party wall or near the boundary.
Notice must be issued to your neighbours if you propose to:
1). New walls built up to, or astride, the line of junction.
2). Works directly on a Party Wall, Party Structure or Party Fence Wall.
3). Excavations within 3m or 6m to a depth lower than the adjoining owner’s (the neighbour’s) foundations or structure.
We recommend you speak to their neighbours before serving notice as neighbours that feel they are consulted appear less likely to immediately appoint a separate surveyor.
Party Wall Notices are served by the ‘Building Owner’ proposing to undertake the construction work. Notice can be served by the Building Owners Surveyor. The Party Wall Notice gives the ‘Adjoining Owner’ the right to select one of three Party Wall Notice responses:
This means that the adjoining owner reserves the protections of the Party Wall Act, allowing the (building owner) to commence with the proposed construction work without further Award. In this scenario, we strongly recommend a Schedule of Condition to safeguard all parties.
When adjoining owner’s dissent to Party Wall Notice’s they are invoking the formalities and protections set out by the Party Wall etc Act. Choosing to appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor, will make the building owner duty-bound to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor, the two appointed Party Wall Surveyors will follow the procedures and agree a Party Wall Award.
This option mirrors the second Party Wall Notice response. The only difference being, one Party Wall Surveyor acts impartially on behalf of both parties.
Subject to the complicity of the project, the whole process can take anywhere between 2 weeks to 2 months on average.
Notices are normally served at least two months before the planned start of work to the party wall.
The Building Owner will usually pay all reasonable costs associated with a Party Wall Award providing the works are solely for the Building Owner’s benefit.
A Party Wall stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two or more owners and either:
– Forms part of a building
– Separates two or more buildings
– or consists of a ‘party fence wall’
A ‘party fence wall’ is not part of a building but stands astride the boundary between land of different owners and is used to separate the land.
Floors or walls between flats are ‘party structures’.
Failure to comply with the Party Wall Act can result in significant legal consequences, costs and delays.
If a dispute arises between you and your neighbour due to non-compliance with the Party Wall Act they have the right to initiate legal action against you. When such matters come before the Courts they often take a dim view of anyone failing to comply with the statutory obligations of the Party Wall Act.
One of the most significant consequences of facing legal action is the cost. If a Building Owner has failed to follow their obligations under the Party Wall Act they are likely to be held liable for all the costs of legal action to stop work and resolve matters which is likely to exceed the cost of complying with the Party Wall etc. Act.
The court can order an injunction to halt any work until the matter is resolved, causing significant delays and financial losses. Interim injunctions can be granted swiftly and stop the works immediately, until the Party Wall Act process is followed.