What Do Party Wall Surveyors do?

THE PARTY WALL ETC. ACT 1996

EXPLANATORY GUIDE 

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Graham Kinnear BSc (Hons), CBuildE, MCABE, AssocRICS, ACIArb, MRPSA, FPCS, CPEA, CRLM, MGIS, CeMAP, FPC, MLIA(Dip), DipDEA, MInstDEA, DipGDA, FFPWS, FIPWS, MPWAc, AIRPM, MIFSM, MITOL, CertDOCEAhas spent over 20 years involved in the property market and has both experience and formal training in party wall matters. He is a Chartered Building Engineer as well as being a Fellow of both the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and Institute of Party Wall Surveyors. He is also a published author on Property matters. He is equally at home acting for building owners, adjoining owners or as the agreed surveyor of the parties. In this months newsletter we seek to explain the Party Wall Etc Act.

What is a Party Wall?

In simple terms a Party Wall divides the buildings of two owners with the boundary between the two properties, usually, but not always, positioned at the centre of the wall. If an owner plans to undertake works which directly affect a party wall they must write to their neighbour explaining what it is they propose to do and when they are planning to start.  We can help you with the notices you may need to send if you are looking to undertake work to your property.

So if I don’t share a wall with my neighbour the work won’t be covered by the Party Wall Act?

Many owners are surprised to learn that the Act actually covers two other specific types of work (that’s why the “etc” bit is in the title!); new walls (but not fences) built at or astride the boundary and excavation (ie digging for foundations) close to an adjoining owners structure.

How Close?

For excavation to be notifiable under the Act it must be within 3 metres of a neighbouring structure, increasing to six metres for deep excavation and deeper than the foundations to that structure.

What will my neighbour do once they receive the Notice?

If they are relaxed about the work and the affect that it may have on their property then they can simply confirm their consent in writing. However if they are concerned it is recommended that they seek professional advice from a Surveyor before replying to the notice. They can, at any time, dissent to the notices and appoint a surveyor to help address their concerns. If they do not reply to the notice within 14 days then they will be deemed to have dissented and be “in dispute” with yourself, the building owner.

Dispute sounds serious?

Dispute is simply the term used in the Act when an adjoining owner does not consent. It doesn’t mean that you cannot remain friends with your neighbour or that you cannot undertake the proposed work; it just means that the Act’s dispute resolution procedures are triggered and the owners are obliged to appoint surveyors.

To do what?

The appointed surveyors will review the plans, assess the risk to the adjoining property and agree what must be done to reduce that risk. They will also ensure that the building owner carries out their work in a manner that limits the inconvenience to the adjoining owner.

Who can act as a Surveyor?

Other than the owners themselves, pretty much anyone, although as there are important construction issues to be agreed it would clearly be helpful if they had a relevant qualification and were familiar with party wall procedures. That will normally mean appointing a surveyor who is a member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and or the Pyramus & Thisbe Club. 

So how much will this cost?

In all normal circumstances, the building owner pays the surveyors fees; which is only fair given that it is them benefitting from the building work. Our costs for the drafting and service of all the required notices under the Party Wall Etc Act are £150.00 plus VAT.

What happens if my neighbours property gets damaged?

The Party Wall Etc Act can either allow the building owners contractor to make good any damage to the neighbours property or request a payment in lieu in order that they can employ their own contractor. If there is a dispute over the cause or extent of damage you can use the Act’s dispute resolution procedures. If there is an award produced, it will include a record of your property before the work commences.

Party Wall

What if I start the works without adhering to the Party Wall Etc Act?

If you start your project without adhering to the Party Wall Etc Act then in essence the notifiable aspects of your project would be unlawful and your neighbour would be potentially entitled to apply for an injunction forcing you to stop your project. Furthermore in the event of a dispute with your neighbour you would have to resort to the potentially expensive route of civil litigation as the protections offered by the Party Wall Etc Act would not be in play given that Party Wall Notices were never served.

So just remind me again where the rules apply….. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

1.  If you are excavating for foundations within 3 metres of any part of your neighbours property then you must serve a party wall notice.

2.  If you are building on or astride the boundary you share with your neighbour then you must serve a party wall notice.

3.  If you are going to undertake any works to a wall that you share with your neighbour then you must serve a party all notice.

Still have more questions? 

Then please contact us on 0844 414 8659 or 01843 583000 or by email at [email protected]

Exposed Party Wall
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