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Avoiding Party Wall Problems

Oct 9, 2023


Party wall surveying will inherently bring with it concerns that adjoining owners are likely to have in respect of a building owner’s planned construction works. 

It is important to note for building owners that in many cases the adjoining owner will look at the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 as the vessel to give them the all-necessary assurances that their planned works will pose the least amount of risk as possible. 

While a building owner will go through all of the necessary statutory applications and consents in the runup to their planned construction works, they will often overlook or give little weight to the concerns of an adjoining owner

This is inherently an oversight, with that oversight likely leading to some degree of concern by their neighbour, the adjoining owner.

In this property surveying blogpost, we are going to be putting forward some recommendations from a Party Wall Surveyor and our party wall surveying team here at Stokemont on how a building owner can best avoid the scenario whereby the adjoining owner has heightened concern in respect of their planned construction work.

We will be putting forward a number of easy to follow handy tips that can best help a building owner facilitate a positive Party Wall Notice response. 

When a Party Wall Notice is served upon an adjoining owner, they will have three distinct Party Wall Notice options.

Consenting to the Party Wall Notice

A Party Wall Notice consent is the most favourable type of response that a building owner can achieve from their neighbour, the adjoining owner.

A consent will mean that the adjoining owner is knowingly reserving the statutory protections that the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affords them.

For a building owner, this response will mean that they do not need to go through any of the party wall surveying procedures. 

Importantly, and often the crux of a building owner’s aim, they will also not need to incur the cost that can come with the party wall surveying procedures.

Not forgetting, that party wall surveying procedures will indeed present a hurdle to the planned construction works, this hurdle being in the form of added delay and time. 

Again, this is another protocol and procedure that a Party Wall Notice consent will avoid.

Party Wall Notice consents are rare, they make up a very small amount of the Party Wall Notice responses that we get and have always got throughout our Party Wall Notice service.

Party Wall Notice Dissent

If an adjoining owner opts to dissent to a Party Wall Notice they are given two different response options.

Firstly, they can appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor.  This Party Wall Surveyor will be in place to look at the planned construction works from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property. 

They will do this along with their counterpart, the Party Wall Surveyor that has been appointed on behalf of the building owner. 

Those two surveyors will then agree a Party Wall Award, that Party Wall Award giving the building owner the all-important legal protections equally ensuring that the adjoining owner’s property is well protected and safeguarded both during and post construction work. 

Secondly, an adjoining owner, if they are willing to, can agree for a single Party Wall Surveyor to act on behalf of both building owner and adjoining owner alike. 

The agreement of this single surveyor is very much at the adjoining owner’s discretion. 

The giveaway is in the legal name.  You cannot have an Agreed Party Wall Surveyor without the agreement of the adjoining owner. 

Party Wall Notice dissents are the most conventional and common Party Wall Notice response that we get here at Stokemont and generally speaking, throughout the industry as a whole. 

Building owners will often take issue with the fact that an adjoining owner wants to dissent. This is the wrong way to look at it.  An adjoining owner wanting to dissent is very much just their way of ensuring that they are afforded the full protections that the law allows. 

There are a number of tried and tested methods that a building owner can implement and administer in order to best achieve a positive Party Wall Notice response; positive Party Wall Notice response realistically being a Party Wall Notice consent or, in fact, an Agreed Party Wall Surveyor appointment. 

Neighbourly Discussion

First and foremost, it is important for a building owner to ensure that the works are fully discussed with the adjoining owner as soon as possible.

Discussing and informing your neighbour of the planned construction works is going to go a significant way to expelling any concerns that they have.  This ultimately boding well for a positive Party Wall Notice response. 

Neighbourly Considerations

Building owners will often want to maximise the space of their planned construction work and final end user space. 

This is totally acceptable and a normal way any owner should look at planned construction works. 

They will want to get the ‘biggest bang for their buck’ and ultimately ensure that the money they do spend provides the best living space at the end of it. 

They will often therefore want to build to the full curtilage of their land and boundary line.

This can often concern adjoining owners as, rightfully so, they will want to ensure that the planned works have the least amount of interaction with their property and usually garden. 

Many adjoining owners will wrongly assume that a gap needs to be left between the flank wall of their extension and the boundary line itself.  This is not the case. 

However, making sure that an adjoining owner is aware of this prior to the service of the Party Wall Notice it is going to go a significant way to minimise the impact and concern that that Party Wall Notice carries. 

Discussing matters with neighbours and giving them the all-important neighbourly information is going to best achieve positive Party Wall Notice response. 

Party Wall Surveyor Selection

In many cases, adjoining owners are going to be well aware of party wall surveying procedures. 

With the internet being such an incredibly helpful tool in these types of situations, the adjoining owner will not need to search very far to find pages of helpful and easy to follow advice from Party Wall Surveyors. 

It is therefore important for a building owner to take this into account.  Here at Stokemont, we would advise that you open discussions with the adjoining owner early on. 

You can do this by asking them if they have a particular Party Wall Surveyor in mind.  If indeed they do, you can then open discussions about agreed surveyor appointment. 

This will give the adjoining owner the all-important freedom to select a Party Wall Surveyor of their choosing.  However, it will also give a building owner the opportunity to reduce and minimise both time and cost, as they too would use that same Party Wall Surveyor. 

Party wall surveying procedures can be administered by Party Wall Surveyors, architects, engineers, contractors, builders, and even lay people.

For that reason, it is key that when you do come to selecting a Party Wall Surveyor, you are selecting a surveyor who is not only experienced but hopefully also has some form of qualification within the property sector. 

If you would like to discuss property surveying matters, and particularly party wall surveying matters, with our team of experienced and qualified Party Wall Surveyors please feel free to get in touch and give us a call today.  We will be more than happy to assist and advise you.

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