Are your neighbours planning building works?

Are your neighbours carrying out or planning to undertake any of the works listed below? If so, legally your neighbours should serve a Party Wall Notice upon you before commencing any such works.

  • An extension, whether that be to the rear, side or into the loft.
  • Conversion of a basement, garage or loft.
  • Underpinning.
  • Alterations, demolition or repairs to a wall, ceiling or floor shared with another property.
  • Roofing works, including to the chimney.
  • Building a free standing wall, or a wall of a building, up to or astride the boundary with a neighbouring property.
  • Excavating and casting foundations within 3 or 6 metres of an adjoining building owned by someone else.
The Party Wall Process For Adjoining Owners

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides Adjoining Owners with rights you would not necessarily be granted within common law. If Adjoining Owners Dissent to the Building Owners proposed works, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 allows the Adjoining Owners an element of influencing how and when the works will be carried out, how any damage will be remedied and, where necessary, have monies deposited as security should the Building Owners not complete the works.

The Party Wall Company advises Adjoining Owners on all Party Wall Matters and we can act as your appointed Party Wall Surveyor.

What is an Adjoining Owner?

Definition of an Adjoining Owner
“Adjoining owner” and “adjoining occupier” respectively mean any owner and any occupier of land, buildings, storeys or rooms adjoining those of the building owner and for the purposes only of section 6 within the distances specified in that section.
If you receive a Notice under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 you will have 14 days to carefully decide whether to consent or dissent to your neighbours’ proposals.  Whichever way you decide, this will need to be in writing.  How you respond will depend on the complexity of the works your neighbours are proposing and how you view the potential risk of damage to your property.  If the 14 day period passes without you responding or appointing a Party Wall Surveyor a further letter would be sent to you requesting that you either consent or dissent to the Notice.  After a further 10 day period has elapsed, a Dispute would have arisen and the Building Owners have the ability to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor on your behalf if you had not confirmed your decision within this additional 10 day period.  Please refer to our Adjoining Owners step-by-step guide to the Party Wall process for more information.
Unfortunately, this situation occurs far too often.  Sometimes the Building Owners are not aware that the Act exists. Sometimes they are aware, but choose to ignore the Act.

We would suggest that should you have such a situation, you act quickly and contact us so that we can advise you accordingly.

No. The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is a facilitating piece of legislation.  In essence, the Act is a dispute resolution process to prevent neighbours having to fight to obtain a legal judgement to undertake building works.  Some Adjoining Owners believe that if they ignore the Building Owners’ Notice they can frustrate the Party Wall process.  However, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 sets out defined timescales in which Adjoining Owners have to respond following the serving of a Notice and, if Adjoining Owners continue to ignore a Notice, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 allows the Building Owners to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor on behalf of the Adjoining Owners so that the process can continue.
If the Building Owners wish to undertake works for the sole benefit of the Building Owners, usually the Building Owners would have to pay all reasonable costs involved in agreeing a Party Wall Award.  However, things need to be put into perspective.  With the best of intentions, no one sets out to cause damage to a neighbouring property.  However, in reality, things can and do go wrong.  Without the Act, the only way you will be able to redress any disputed damage is through the courts, which would test the best of neighbour relationships, not to mention the expense you will incur having to take your neighbours to court.  Furthermore, the small cost involved in agreeing a Party Wall Award will be minimal compared to how much their building works will cost overall.

We would recommend that if the works were of a simple nature the Adjoining Owners could consider appointing one single Party Wall Surveyor, referred to within the Act as the “Agreed Surveyor”.  The Party Wall Company act as the Agreed Surveyor often and we would be happy to advise of the advantages and disadvantages of using one surveyor.