First of all, what is a party wall notice?
A party wall notice is a document which sets out a building owners proposed construction works to their adjoining neighbours.
A building owner is required to serve a party wall notice on an adjoining owner if they are building on the line of junction, cutting into the party wall for any purpose or excavating within 3m of the adjoining property.
If the building owner is either building on the line of junction or excavating within 3m of the adjoining property, they are required to serve a party wall notice 1 month prior to the commencement of the works.
If they are proposing to undertake works directly to the party wall or party structure they are required to serve a party wall notice 2 months prior to the commencement of the works.
As part of the party wall notice the adjoining owner is provided with three response options to the notice.
So, what are these response options?
The first option available to an adjoining owner is to ‘Consent’ to the works. This essentially ends the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 procedures and gives the building owner the go ahead to proceed with their proposed works.
Proceeding with this option means that the adjoining owner agrees to deal with the construction works without the input of party wall surveyors and in the event of damage they will deal with this directly with the building owner who is undertaking the construction works.
An alternative response option is to dissent to the party wall notice and appoint an ‘Agreed Surveyor’. If the adjoining owner decides to go with this option a single party wall surveyor will be appointed whose role will be to reduce the risk of the construction works to the adjoining owner’s property.
To achieve this, the party wall surveyor will undertake a Schedule of Condition which you can read more about by clicking here. Following on from this the party wall surveyor will then create the party wall award which essentially governs the building owner’s works and thus further protects the adjoining owner’s property from nuisance and damage. Feel free to read more about party wall awards by clicking here.
The final response option available to an adjoining owner is to dissent and appoint an independent party wall surveyor. This option is very much like the ‘Agreed Surveyor’ option. However, rather than having one surveyor involved there will be two. One will act on behalf of the adjoining owner and one on behalf of the building owner undertaking the works.
These two surveyors will carry out the same process as previously discussed within the ‘Agreed Surveyor’ option.
Which response option should you go for?
Consenting to a party wall notice is a relatively rare response from adjoining owners as this doesn’t provide you with any protection under the party wall act in the event of damage.
Proceeding with this option could very easily cause hassle in an adjoining owners’ life if there is damage as there will be no surveyor involvement and they will be left to deal with this directly with their neighbour.
It could be advisable to consent to a party wall notice if you have a good relationship with the building owner who is undertaking the works as this will likely mean that damage will be easily rectified.
Furthermore, consenting to a party wall notice will save your neighbour money and if you dissent the relationship with your neighbour could decline as they will be liable for the fees for the party wall procedures.
If you are planning on undertaking construction works in the near future, it may also be worth considering consenting to the party wall notice with hope that your neighbour will also go for the same option in the future when you are required to serve a party wall notice upon them.
Dissenting to a party wall notice is a far more common response taken by adjoining owner’s and in our opinion, it is advisable to do so.
Having the involvement of an experienced party wall surveyor will significantly reduce the level of risk and nuisance to the adjoining owner’s property.
Not only this, in the unfortunate event of damage, the party wall award created will provide the adjoining owner with better protection than through common law.
We would always advise that an adjoining owner considers going for the ‘Agreed Surveyor’ option as this will reduce costs for the building owner undertaking the works.
Not only this but the whole procedure will be streamlined as it will be dealt with by one surveyor which saves the back and forth between two parties. This brings time savings and further costs savings to the party wall procedures.
Some adjoining owners are worried that a party wall surveyor may act bias towards the building owner. However, party wall surveyors are duty bound to act impartially which is another reason why we would always advise considering the ‘Agreed Surveyor’ option.
If you have recently been served a party wall notice and you would like to discuss your options, please feel free to contact one of our highly experienced party wall surveyors by clicking here.