Once adjoining owners are served with a Party Wall Notice they have a couple of different options for how they can respond. Simply put the adjoining owners can either consent or dissent to the works, however, the ramifications of these choices are more complex then they may seem.
In this Party Wall Surveying blog post I will explore both the consent and dissent option and what they mean for the parties involved.
Firstly, I will cover the option of…Consenting to the Party Wall Notice
When an adjoining owner goes with the consent option to a Party Wall Notice, they are stating that they are agreeable and fine with the building owner’s Party Wall works to go ahead without a Party Wall Award being written up and served upon the respective owners. This is generally the preferred option for building owners as it means they do not need to pay for a Party Wall Surveyor and they can start the Party Wall works on-site immediately.
As an adjoining owner, if for whatever reason you trust the works will be done without damage, and if any damages are caused the building owner would pay for repairs, then this is the option to go for.
However, if there is doubt as to whether the works will cause damage, or whether the building owner would rectify any issues, this is probably not the preferred option. As a Party Wall Award will not be written up, you will have little control over how to works themselves are undertaken, and, unless you get a Surveyor’s Schedule of Condition Report prepared and written up pre works, there will be no record of your property before the works were undertaken. This means that if damages do occur, it will be harder to prove they were caused as a result of the work and could place you in a compromised situation when it comes to claim for any damage.
It is for these concerns that in my experience, adjoining owners often opt for the option of… Dissenting to the Party Wall Notice
When an adjoining owner goes with the Party Wall Notice response option of a dissent, they are stating that they do not want the building owner’s proposed Party Wall works to go ahead without a Party Wall Award first being written up and served by a Party Wall Surveyor, or Party Wall Surveyors depending upon the response option they select.
In my experience, dissenting to a Party Wall Notice tends to be the most picked option, as adjoining owners often feel safer having more protection in place should there be issues with the works. This is not only beneficial for adjoining owners however, as building owners can protect themselves from false claims of damages and issues with the works such as gaining access.
Once the Party Wall Notice dissent option is picked, that means that Schedule of Condition Reports will need to be carried out, and Party Wall Awards were written up and served. This will carried out by either an Agreed Surveyor or by the Building Owner’s Surveyor and Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor in unison, depending upon whether the Adjoining Owner opts for their own Party Wall Surveyor or agree to share the same one as the Building Owner (for more information on these two options and their benefits check my previous blog here: “Party Wall Disputes: Options of Dissent”. Once the award is written up and served, and only then, may the Party Wall works commence.
Going down this route is, of course, more time-consuming and costly for the Building Owner, and for this reason Building Owners often push for the Party Wall Notice Consent option. However, Dissenting to the Notice and getting the Party Wall Award written up is definitely the safer option and offers the all invaluable peace of mind that many owners seek, while also offering protection for both the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner.
So, considering all of the above… My recommendation
I always suggest that you go for the Party Wall Notice dissent option. This is because it provides the most protection and it is hard to know for sure whether works will go well or not without such response. If you do trust your neighbour and do want to go for a Party Wall Notice consent, I suggest getting a Surveyor’s Schedule of Condition Report written up at the very least. This will provide you will sufficient evidence in case damages do occur, which can help you in any claims that you may need to make.
If you want to appoint us as your surveyor, or simply want some more advice, feel free to call us on 0207 935 2502 for 30 minutes of free Party Wall Consultation.