What is a Building Owner?
Definition of a Building OwnerAn owner who wishes to undertake building works which involves exercising rights provided by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
Yes you can. However, any errors or omissions contained in the Notice can render it invalid which would require you to serve a further Notice with the potential of delaying your building project. The Party Wall Company provides a Party Wall Notice drafting service. From just £50.00, an experienced Party Wall Surveyor will draft the required Notice(s) to ensure your project is not delayed due to an invalid Party Wall Notice. Please Contact Us to discuss your project and we can advise you further.
The failure or avoidance of serving a Notice can lead to expensive delays and legal costs if the Adjoining Owners seek to stop the Building Owners work. The Adjoining Owners can apply for a Court Injunction against the Building Owners or their Builder to stop unauthorised works. The Adjoining Owners can even apply for a Mandatory (pulling down) Injunction against works wholly or partly completed. The case of Louis vs Sadiq (1997) ended up in court after Sadiq undertook notifiable works to his terraced house without serving a Notice on Louis, the Adjoining Owner. The works caused damage to the adjacent property owned by Louis who was in the process of selling the property and buying another property when the damage occurred. Louis obtained an Injunction restraining Sadiq from continuing with the works until Sadiq complied with the Act. Sadiq subsequently complied with the Act and was ordered to repair the damage caused to Louis property. Sadiq was also found liable for the consequential losses suffered by Louis in not being able to sell the property, plus the abortive purchasing costs for the property they were in the process of buying when the damage caused by Sadiq occurred.
If after serving a valid Party Wall Notice your neighbour consents in writing then yes, you can proceed with your works. However, you and any contracted builder will still have a duty of care to carry out the works diligently and you will still be liable for any damage under common law. Please note, a recent court judgement between Onigbanjo vs Pearson (2008) clarified that an Adjoining Owner who had previously consented to the proposed works detailed on the Building Owner’s Notice could later change their mind and dissent to the Notice, triggering the provisions of the Act.
We often get asked this question as most people who have a wall or floor/ceiling structure (as defined within the Act) dividing their property from a neighbouring property believes that each neighbour owns their half of the wall or structure. However, from the perspective of the Act, owners should consider the wall or structure in joint ownership. The wall is owned by both parties for the full thickness of the wall or structure.
Is it correct that although I intend solely to build on my own land, I have to serve a Party Wall Notice upon my neighbours before commencing works?
This question needs to be answered in two parts depending upon the distance your project is from the neighbouring existing building. Firstly, if your project is within 3 metres of the neighbouring property and your excavations are going to be deeper than the neighbouring existing foundations, you will need to serve a Notice under Section 6(1) of the Act. Please refer to Diagram 6 on page 19 of the Explanatory Booklet (icon below) which will help illustrate this scenario. Secondly, you will need to serve a Notice under Section 6(2) of the Act if your project is within 6 metres of the neighbouring property and your excavations would be intercepted if an imaginary line was to be drawn at a 45o angle from the underside of the neighbouring foundations. Please refer to Diagram 7 on page 19 of the Explanatory Booklet (See PDF) which will help illustrate this scenario.
This will depend on many factors. However, The Party Wall Company can provide you with a fixed cost once all of the details are known about the works. In most normal circumstances, it is the Building Owners (the party instigating and benefiting from the works) who will be responsible for paying the appointed Party Wall surveyor(s) fees, even if the Adjoining Owners appoint their own surveyor.
We would disagree. Building Owners should remember that the Party Wall Act is a facilitating Act. Some of the benefits include: enabling Building Owners to carry out works legally, providing defined timescales to prevent others from delaying your project, offering protection from future claims of damage, and, preventing the expense of going to court. Furthermore, the Act can provide access onto neighbouring land to execute any necessary works in pursuance with the Act, including the placing of scaffolding upon their land to facilitate the works. No other piece of current legislation can provide this benefit.
If the wall is a Party Wall your neighbour can use the wall. However, your neighbour would have to pay you their share of the cost to construct the wall at the current industry rate for such works. For example, if we assume that to construct this same wall today would cost £2,000, your neighbour would have to pay you £1,000 to use the wall originally built by you or by any previous owner of your property, regardless of what it actually cost when the Party Wall was built. (Please note, that although the Act only states that owners can “Raise” a Party Wall, this is also held to include extending downwards, therefore incorporating basement conversion in the above example.)