Oakfield Building Chartered Surveyors

What is Party Wall Notice?

If you are planning to undertake a building project which will impact a party wall shared with an adjacent property, you are obliged, under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 to serve a Party Wall Notice. The party wall notice forms part of the process for gaining consent for carrying out building works on a shared wall or party wall.

A party wall is defined in government guidance on the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. It specifies that there are two types of party wall.

Party Wall Notices

What are the different types of Party Wall Notice?

There are three types of Party Wall Notice:

  1. Party Structure Notice
  2. Notice of Adjacent Excavation
  3. Line of Junction Notice

A Party Structure Notice relates to significant alterations to the party wall, for example cutting into the wall to remove a chimney breast, insert a damp proof course, or fit a beam for supporting an extension or loft conversion.

A Notice of Adjacent Excavation relates to:

• Excavations within three metres of an adjoining building or structure, if the excavations will be lower than the foundations.
• Excavations within six metres of a building or structure if they will be lower than a line drawn downwards at 45 degrees from the face of the external wall.

A Line of Junction Notice relates to:

• A new wall to be constructed adjacent to a boundary
• A new wall to be constructed astride a boundary

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Our team is dedicated to providing the highest quality building surveys.
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What is a party wall notice

What should a Party Wall Notice include?

Perhaps surprisingly there is no official form for a Party Wall Notice. There are various templates available online, but we would recommend that you arrange for your surveyor to draw up the Party Wall Notice for you, so that you can be certain that all relevant and necessary information has been included.

There are some essential pieces of information which must be detailed in a party wall notice. These include:

  • The date of the notice
  • The name and address of the building owner
  • The planned date for starting the proposed work
  • Details of the work which is to be carried out

Is a Party Wall Surveyor responsible for party wall notice?

The owner of the property where the proposed building work is to be carried out (building owner) is responsible for ensuring that a party wall notice is sent to the owners of adjoining properties (adjoining owner). However, we would usually recommend that a party wall surveyor who is an expert in this field is tasked with preparing and serving the party wall notice. This will ensure that the process is followed per the requirements of the Party Wall Act. An experienced surveyor will bring a wealth of expertise and ensure that the process is conducted in an efficient and professional manner, giving you the best chance for a positive response from the owners of the neighbouring property. Our RICS surveyors have years of experience in handling party wall matters and can advise you on all aspects.

What is the purpose of a party wall notice?

The purpose of the Party Wall Notice is to document the essential information about your proposed building works so that this can be clearly communicated to the owners of neighbouring properties which could be impacted by the works, usually because of a party wall. The Party Wall Notice conveys the information to the neighbours and gives them the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns.

The Party Wall Notice must be served to the owner of the adjoining property. If the property is occupied by tenants, the notice needs to be clearly marked for the owner’s attention. The notice can be delivered by hand or posted – remember to get proof of posting. If you have the owner’s email address you are also permitted to send the Party Wall Notice via email.

What happens after the Party Wall Notice has been served?

Once the Party Wall Notice has been served, there will be three possible scenarios:

  1. Consent: the adjoining owner may respond positively and consent to an agreement
  2. Dissent: the adjoining owner may object. Your neighbour is likely to appoint their own surveyor at this stage or share the same surveyor as you.
  3. No response: the adjoining owner may ignore the notice. If they do, you will have to appoint a separate surveyor to act for them.

In the event of scenario 1, you are now at liberty to proceed with the works, provided any other required permissions have been granted. For Scenario 2, your next step is to appoint an independent surveyor who will act impartially to achieve a resolution. The adjoining owner will arrange for their surveyor to prepare a Schedule of Condition report, which provides a record of the state of the property prior to any works beginning. This can then be used by the adjoining owner later if they believe that there has been damage to their property as a result of the works.

In Scenario 3, if a period of 14 days has elapsed since notice was served and you haven’t received a response from the adjoining owner, this needs to be treated as a refusal and will be dealt with as for Scenario 2.

The next step is for an impartial surveyor to be appointed who will act to achieve resolution for the property owners within the requirements of the Party Wall Act. The mechanism for doing this is a Party Wall Award. The surveyor will prepare the award.

What happens if you don’t serve a Party Wall Notice?

If you fail to serve a Party Wall Notice you expose yourself to several risks…

Legal Obligation

Legal Obligation

If you fail to follow the correct procedure, at the very least, you leave yourself open to allegations that you are not doing things by the book. Serving Party Wall Notice to the owners of adjoining properties before you commence work on a party wall is a legal obligation. An adjacent neighbour is entitled to seek a court injunction to stop your work if you fail to serve notice. This will inevitably cause delays to your building project, and You could also find you are liable for your neighbours’ legal fees.

Incurring excess costs

Incurring excess costs

If building work has to stop because you have not served notice and a neighbour objects, you could incur further costs if you have to make additional payments to your builders to cover their loss of income. Disputes can cause considerable delays and can be costly, so should be avoided wherever possible.

Relations with your neighbours may deteriorate

Relations with your neighbours may deteriorate

Failing to serve a Party Wall Notice risks damaging relations with your neighbours. When you keep them informed of your plans, ideally both informally in conversation, and formally through serving a notice, it demonstrates courtesy and respect. Maintaining good relations with your neighbours can play an important part in the smooth and efficient running of your project. And when the work is complete, you won’t want the lasting effect of bad relations with your neighbours to detract from the enjoyment of your new upgraded home.

Looking for a chartered surveyor?

We are one of the leading Chartered Surveyors covering London, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire and regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Our team is dedicated to providing the highest quality building surveys.
Contact us to discuss your requirements further.

When does the Party Wall Notice need to be served?

You must arrange to have a Party Structure Notice served at least two months ahead of the planned date for work to start on the project. The notice is valid for just 12 months, so it should not be served too far in advance or if there is uncertainty about your readiness to proceed with the work within that timeframe.

If you are serving a Notice of Adjacent Excavation or a Line of Junction Notice, it must be done one month before your proposed start date for the works.

What is a counter-notice?

Following the receipt of your Party Wall Notice, the owner of the adjoining property has the option to serve a counter-notice. The adjoining property owners should advise the building owner within 14 days of their intention to serve a counter-notice. The counter-notice must be given within one month of the original Party Wall Notice’s being served. This document sets out details of proposed additional work or modifications to the original planned works.

When the building owner receives a counter-notice, a response must be given to the adjoining property owner within 14 days.

Party Wall Award

The next step is for an independent Party Wall Surveyor to make a Party Wall Award. This takes into consideration any counter-notice, and authorises the work which may be carried out.

At Oakfield Chartered Surveyors we have a team of experts in party wall matters. We pride ourselves on our client-focused approach. We know that every project is unique and will work with you to ensure that the services we provide are tailored to the needs of your particular property and circumstances. With our head office in Beaconsfield, we serve clients across the home counties and in London. Contact us to discuss your needs with one of our RICS surveyors.

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