If you are proposing to undertake any of the following works then you will need to comply with the Party Wall Act:
- The excavation of ground to install foundations
- The construction of a new wall on the boundary you share with your neighbour
- Any works to a wall shared with your neighbour such as the insertion of beams to support a loft conversion or the removal of a chimney breast
- The excavation to form basement/subterranean accommodation
- The raising of a wall shared between you and your neighbour
- Underpinning of a party wall
- Structural Repairs to a party wall
- Cutting into a wall to insert a flashing or weatherproofing
In order to comply with this legislation you are obliged to serve a party wall notice on your neighbour detailing your proposals. In the case of the creation of foundations you must also append to the notice drawings and sections showing the type, depth and location of the proposed foundation.
Obviously drafting and serving the Notice yourself could be a way to save money but please be aware that if the Party Wall Notices are incorrect in any way and a dispute arises they may be deemed invalid and new Party Wall Notices will have to be served and the notice period will have to start again.
Consequently, most people engage a Party Wall Surveyor to undertake this function for them. We can draft and serve all of the required party wall notices to your neighbour for a fixed fee of £150 plus VAT. This fee is fixed regardless of how many notices are required. You will not be asked to pay a penny until the Notices have been successfully served.
There are three types of party wall notice namely a Line of Junction Notice, Party Structure Notice and Section 6 Notice. The circumstances under which may be served are detailed below:
If you are planning to build a new wall either as a Party Wall or a Party fence wall (astride a boundary) subject to your neighbour’s consent, or up to the line of junction and wholly on your own land, a Section 1 Notice must be served.
Section 1 Notice / Line of Junction Notice
If a proposed wall needs foundations to a lower depth than your neighbours foundations, a Section 6 notice could also be required.
Section 3 Notice / Party Structure Notice
If you are planning to cut into a Party Wall to insert flashings or a damp proof course, cut away chimney breasts or projections, raise, rebuild repair, underpin, expose the Party Wall to the weather or enclose upon a wall on or at the line of junction turning it into a Party Wall, in such cases a Section 3 Notice must be served.
Section 6 Notice / Notice of Adjacent Excavation
If you are planning to excavate within 3m of neighbour’s foundations to a lower depth, or within 6m to a lower depth than a line struck at 45 degrees down from the underside of the neighbour’s foundations, then a section 6 notice must be served.
As illustrated on the following graphic, each have a different timescale which should elapse prior to work commencing.
Upon receipt of the Party Wall Notices your neighbours effectively have five options.
- Consent to your proposals. If this is the case then, from a party wall perspective, your obligations are complete and there is nothing further to do and nothing further to pay.
- Consent to your proposals, subject to us undertaking a Schedule of Condition of their property. This Schedule of Condition is a written and photographic record of the condition of their property prior to you commencing your proposed works. This protects your neighbour in that we should be able to easily identify damage following your development being completed that was not there at the outset. It also protects you against a claim from your neighbour to repair pre-existing damage that your development did not cause.
- Dissent your proposals and in such circumstances a dispute is deemed to have arisen and your neighbour agrees to our appointment as the agreed surveyor of the parties. In such circumstances we would undertake a site inspection and schedule of condition and then draft and serve upon the parties a Party Wall Award which would authorise the works that you are proposing to undertake.
- Dissent your proposals and in such circumstances a dispute is deemed to have arisen and your neighbour appoints their own surveyor. In such circumstances ourselves and your neighbours surveyor would undertake a site visit and schedule of condition and then together agree upon the content of a Party Wall Award which would then be served upon the parties authorising the works you wish to undertake.
- Ignore the notice. Occasionally a neighbour will simply ignore the notice. In such circumstances they will be sent a further reminder, 14 days after the initial notice was served. This second notice will give them a period of 10 days within which to appoint a surveyor. In the event that they do not then we, as your surveyor, would make an appointment on their behalf. Once the second surveyor is in place then matters would proceed as 4) above as if they had appointed that surveyor.
What happens once party wall surveyors are appointed?
Once surveyors are appointed the first thing they tend to do is to agree upon a so called “Third Surveyor” who will effectively undertake an arbitration facility in the event that the surveyors cannot agree on a way forward in respect of the works. They are rarely called uponby experienced party wall practitioners and in our experience in excess of 99% of our work is completed without the need to refer to the Third Surveyor.
The Surveyor(s) will then review the proposals and arrange for a site inspection to fully understand what is proposed and its likely impacts and risk in relation to the neighbouring building. They will also undertake a Schedule of Condition of your neighbours building to accurately record its condition prior to the commencement of your works.
Following that visit, your surveyor (which we hope will be from our firm!) drafts a party wall award and this is sent to the other surveyor(if there is one) for their approval. Once agreement is reached upon its content it is bound, signed and served upon both you and your neighbour. It is this document which authorises you to undertake the works you propose.
What happens once the party wall Award is served?
Upon service of the party wall award, the parties have 14 days within which to appeal the Award through the court system. If the Award is not appealed in this timescale then it becomes binding on the parties. Whilst you are legally entitled to commence the works immediately you receive the Party Wall Award from us, some people prefer to wait a further 14 days just to make sure that the Award is not appealed.
How much does this all cost?
We operate on a competitive fixed fee system for all residential works so please get in touch, explain the type of project you are hoping to undertake and we will provide you with a competitive fixed fee. You should bear in mind that if your neighbour appoints their own surveyor, you are likely to be responsible for their costs as well as our own.
Underpinning & basements may be subject to additional fees due to complexity and the need to liaise with structural engineers and other professionals.
Please call to discuss commercial projects of all size in order that we can provide you with a fixed fee quote.
I’ve still some questions…
Then email us at [email protected] or telephone us on 01843 583000 for free, no obligation party wall advice. We are happy to spend the time with you, regardless of whether you end up appointing us to act, so that you can fully understand your obligations under the legislation.