When conducting works which trigger the Party Wall Act 1996, it is a legal requirement that you send out Party Wall Notices to the neighbouring properties affected by the works. This is the first step of the Party Wall process and it is a step everyone needs to take if they want to proceed with Party Wall works.
Writing up Party Wall Notices can seem daunting, which is why many people hire Specialist Party Wall Surveyors to prepare and serve it for them. However, to save money, you are free to write up and serve them up yourself, but do bear in mind that in our line of work, we often see Party Wall Notices written up by owners which are invalid, and therefore need re-serving.
Party Wall Notice re-service can lead to delay further down the line, so getting it right the first time is important!
Although writing up Party Wall Notices is not as hard as it seems, there are regular pitfalls we see owners falling victim to. In this blog post, I have taken the liberty to write up a checklist of what is required in a Party Wall Notices. We will start with:
Requirements of a Valid Party Wall Notice:
1 – Full Names of the Owners
It is required that the full name of the owner/owners of the properties involved are present on the Party Wall Notices. This includes both the adjoining owners who the Party Wall Notices will be addressed to and the building owners, who will be named as the ones proposing the works. If there is more than one owner of the property all names must be stated on the Party Wall Notices.
If the name of the owner is unknown, they can be addressed as ‘The Owner’. However, in these cases, the notice must be hand-delivered to the owner or occupant or taped to their front door.
2 – Full Address of the Properties
The full address of the properties in question alongside the contact addresses of all owners involved is also required for the Party Wall Notices to be valid. Naturally, the Party Wall Notices will be addressed to the adjoining owner’s contact address, and the addresses of the property being worked upon and those affected will be mentioned in the body of the letter alongside the explanation of the works being undertaken. The building owner’s contact address should also be mentioned for the return of any documents, although that isn’t required for validity.
3 – Date of the Works
The date that the proposed works will begin should be mentioned in the Party Wall Notices. For works on the Party Wall Structure, the start date should be at least 2 months after the Party Wall Notice has been sent. For other types of works, it should be at least 1 month after the service of the Party Wall Notice.
4 – Signature
One of the most common mistakes we see Building Owners make which invalidates their Party Wall Notices is forgetting to sign them. All owners of the property sign the Party Wall must notice unless one person has been authorised to sign on behalf of everyone. We also suggest printing your name next to the signature.
5 – Description of the Works
It is required that every Party Wall Notice contains details of the works that are going to be taking place. The guidelines for what needs to be described are different depending on the types of works you are conducting.
If you are building up to, or astride of the Line of Junction (the boundary line), you need to describe the wall you intend to build and its location.
If you are proposing works on the Party Wall Wall or Structure, you need to provide details of the works that will be carried out on the adjacent building.
If you are excavating within 3 metres of the adjoining owner’s property, you must give a simple description of the foundations and include drawings. You must state whether underpinning will be needed and confirm if you are including special foundations you must include the plans, sections and details of the works.
6 – Drawings
As mentioned above, you need to include foundation drawings if excavations are taking place.
That is a checklist of what must be present on a Party Wall Notice for it to be valid. If you check all of these points above, you are safe to serve the Party Wall Notice.
However, I have also provided a second list of other things that we suggest you add to the Party Wall Notice. These suggestions are based off what we as a firm has seen helps a Party Wall Notice receive a swift and positive response.
Further Notice Suggestions:
1 – Acknowledgement Letter/form to the Notice
We strongly suggest that an acknowledgement letter is attached to the Party Wall Notice for the adjoining owner to sign. The letter will briefly explain who the adjoining owner is, who the building owner is and how the adjoining owner wishes to respond. This usually ensures a quick response as it gives the adjoining owner less work to do.
2 – Agreed Surveyor Name
We suggest that you provide the name of an agreed surveyor should the adjoining owner decide they want to appoint one. This again saves them time finding their surveyor and makes it more likely that they will go with an agreed surveyor other their own independently acting surveyor.
3 – Email Contact Information
If you want responses to the Party Wall Notice and any other related documentation to be emailed to you, it is suggested that you provide an email address. If you do this you should state that you are willing to receive correspondence to that email.
If you follow these guidelines and make sure to cover all the points, you will have valid Party Wall Notice which should receive a swift response. Though the list is long, the points themselves are fairly simple and you are capable of writing them up yourself.
However, if you would still like a template for peace of mind, we have a Party Wall Notice creator here!
Furthermore, if you would like us to take care of the Party Wall Notices for you, we would be happy to prepare them for you for the flat fee of £65 plus VAT.
If you want any more advice or would like to appoint us to act as your Party Wall Surveyor and deal with these matters for you, give us a call for 30 minutes of free advice on 020 7935 2502.