When should I serve a Party Wall Notice?

James Peck

James Peck

James has worked the residential property sector since 2005 with roles in Asset Management, Probate, Insurance, Party Wall Matters, Valuation and Building Surveying in both local and national areas having spent several years working within the London area and the Home Counties. James specialises in building surveying with a particular interest in non-traditional construction properties and historic buildings. James has an in-depth knowledge of residential buildings and provides clear and concise advice to clients.

The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 is often the last piece of the puzzle needed to be put in place before works can commence on site but is often one of the last things to be thought about.

The Party Wall Act is specific in that there are fixed notice periods of differing types of work.

It states that a 1 month notice period is required for adjacent excavation and new wall up to or astride a boundary and 2 months notice for works affecting a Party Wall or Party Structure.

A Party wall is a wall that divides a property and Party structure is a floor/ceiling between properties.

Although notice periods are rarely a key factor in when the works can start because most adjoining owners are willing to waive the remainder of a notice if they consent or if surveyors have resolved all issues and put a Party Wall Award in place.

There are of course exceptions to this where people insist on the remaining notice period being adhered to. If such a scenario occurs then there is no jurisdiction for the surveyors to waive the remaining notice period and it must lapse before works can commence.

It is there for important that the notices are served as soon as possible to allow for this eventuality and for works to commence on time as a delay could be costly if materials and contractors are on site and ready to commence with the notifiable Party Wall works.

Only an adjacent excavation (digging for foundations) notice needs to be accompanied by drawings showing the proposed site and depth of the foundation in order for it to be valid.

Whereas a notice to either cut into or away from a Party Structure only requires the notice to state the nature and particulars of the works, so it is possible to serve this notice before and detailed plans are in place. You would of course need a full structural set if the neighbour appoints a Surveyor to Act on their behalf.

 If you have a relationship with your neighbours, we would always recommend that you try and have a discussion with them about your works prior to any planning documents being submitted. This way they will be fully aware of what it is you are hoping to do and won’t be surprised when they are notified by the planning department that are wishing to undertake building works to your property.

We often find that the neighbour will look more favourably on your works if they are made aware of what it is you are hoping to do and how it may affect them.

By discussing the Party Wall act with them, they are likely to feel more comfortable consenting to the works knowing that they are protected should the worst happen and damage is caused with a mechanism for resolving it.

There are lots of online tools for putting together your own notices and if you choose to take this route then we would suggest that you undertake sufficient research to make sure they are valid. If they aren’t then this can lead to unnecessary delays once surveyors have been appointed to put a party wall award in place.

Most Surveyors will prepare the notices on your behalf for a minimal fee in the hope of being appointed if a dispute arises. In most scenarios this small investment is often one worth taking to save any difficulties arising later down the line.

If you require any advice on Party Wall matters, please feel free to get in touch on 01494 926236 or 020 8058 0082 or via email.

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One of our team of professionals would be delighted to help you with any queries.