This is a common situation to be in for an adjoining owner, therefore do not panic, I would be happy to advise you of what to do.
If your neighbour has started construction works to their property that fall within the remit of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, and they are yet to serve a Party Wall Notice upon you, do not panic. This is actually a very common position to be in for a number of reasons:
- The building owner is not aware of the party wall procedures and therefore was not aware that they needed to serve a Party Wall Notice on you.
- The building owner’s proposed construction works fall outside the remit of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, and therefore they do not need to go through the party wall procedures.
- They may have served a Party Wall Notice upon you that response was not received to, and therefore have proceeded with their works in failure of response.
The first thing I would recommend doing, is speaking to the building owner, to try and establish exactly what has happened.
In my experience, the most common reason will be that the building owner was not aware of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, whether this was a convenient misunderstanding or not. By having this discussion with them you will be able to ensure that they then are aware of the necessary procedures and follow the required steps as set out by the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
If the building owner was still to refuse to serve a Party Wall Notice, or fail to respond to your request for the service of one, you have one option open to you at this point.
A Party Wall Injunction is effectively a Court Order which will stop the building owner from undertaking any further works on site until he has served the necessary Party Wall Notice upon you.
Injunctions are not to be taken lightly, I would therefore advise speaking to a party wall surveyor and also a solicitor who specialises in party wall surveying before you consider obtaining that.
If an injunction is obtained for works that were not covered by the Party Wall etc Act 1996, or for works that no longer fall within the realm of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, the person who obtained the injunction would not only find themselves liable for the court costs, but could also find themselves liable for the building owner’s contractor’s delay costs.
With weekly costs like skip hire, scaffolding, parking suspensions and also contractual obligations, this can quickly become an expensive mistake to make.
This is why I recommend that all discussions are had before considering this option, as a majority of the time you should be able to reach some solution before that.
Here at Berry Lodge if you believe your neighbour is starting works and has not served a Party Wall Notice upon you, get in touch with us now and we will be happy to send your neighbour a letter requesting that they cease the works until the correct party wall procedures have been followed.
Party wall procedures can often be confusing and complex, especially if you have not had experience with them before. Here at Berry Lodge Surveyors, we pride ourselves in always keeping our clients well informed and obtaining the best outcome possible.
Give us a call now and one of our experienced and qualified party wall surveyors will be more than happy to assist you.