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Property Surveying Blog

Written by Sadek Miah

In this blog post I will be giving an insight into the different Party Wall procedures to consider when engaging in the Party Wall process.

In order to engage in the Party Wall process a homeowner (known as the building owner under the Party Wall etc Act 1996) has to carry out certain type of works that fall within the remit of the Party Wall etc Act 1996. It is important to be able to differentiate works that are ‘Notifiable’ under the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and works that are not that are often referred to as ‘Non Notifiable’ works.

If the proposed works that the building owner is undertaking affects any of the neighbouring properties (known as the adjoining owner’s property under the Party Wall etc Act 1996), then Party Wall procedures will apply.

It is typical that notifiable works are often associated with property extensions, loft conversions, structural works or basement conversions.

Notifiable works usually fall within different categories and are notifiable under different Sections of the Act. In my experience, notifiable works usually include:

Section 1 of the Act:

New walls being built up to, or astride ‘the line of junction’ (commonly the boundary line) between two or more properties.

Section 2 of the Act:

Works taking place which directly affect a party structure or party wall, commonly structural works to a party wall or party structure.

Section 6 of the Act:

Excavations taking place near an adjoining owner’s property, including walls, outhouses or garden structures.

If works are notifiable under the Party Wall etc Act 1996 then the building owner has to serve Party Wall Notice upon all the adjoining owners affected by the notifiable works before going any further.

The adjoining owners who receive these Notices have 3 response options available to them:

Response Option 1, Consenting to the Works

This means they will reserve the protections of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and will essentially allow the building owner to progress the construction works with no further Party Wall Procedures being followed.

It is important to remember that an adjoining owner does later have the right to dissent after a consent, however, this will have to be upon the existence of some type of dispute, most commonly being damage.

Response Option 2, Dissenting to Works and appointing their own Surveyor

The selection of this option means that the adjoining owner will be dissenting to the Notice and appointing their own independent Party Wall Surveyor to review the construction works from the perspective of their property. The building owner will then also need to appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor, with the two Surveyors going through the Party Wall Procedures to agree a Party Wall Award which gives the respective owners legal protection, while also regularising the works.

Response Option 3, Dissenting to Works and agreeing in the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor

An Agreed Surveyor is when the Surveyor acts on behalf of the building owner and the adjoining owner mutually and impartially. The Surveyor will undertake all of the steps that two respective Surveyors would, the only difference being that there is one Surveyor as opposed to two.

Depending on the response a building owner receives from their adjoining owner; this will affect the time involved to complete the procedure and also the total cost.

If the adjoining owner responds with either response option 2 or 3 then a Party Wall Surveyor(s) will need to be appointed to take matters forward. Depending on whether option 2 or 3 is selected, a schedule of condition will need to be carried out by the Surveyor(s).

Following this, a Party wall Agreement or Award is then drafted up by the Surveyor(s) which is then served upon the owners provided all relevant information has been collected.

Upon completion of the construction works a check-off Schedule of Condition inspection is carried out to the adjoining owner’s property to inspect any damage and issue.

If you are planning a construction project, or your neighbour is planning on undertaking works to their property and you think the Party Wall etc Act 1996 may apply, please feel free to get in touch with me directly and I will be happy to advise.