Typical Party Wall Surveying Questions
Do I need to serve a Party Wall Notice?
Party Wall Notices are required if you are undertaking three distinct types of work to your property.
These works are as follows:
- Works directly to a Party Wall, Party Structure or Party Fence Wall:
If you are planning on undertaking works that fall within these definitions, you are legally required to serve a Party Wall Notice upon the affected adjoining owner, a minimum of two months in advance of the proposed works commencing.
- Excavations with Three or Six metres of any adjoining, or neighbouring structure:
If you are planning on undertaking works that fall within the realm of these definitions you will need to serve a Party Wall Notice upon the affected adjoining owner a minimum of one month in advance of the proposed works commencing.
- Construction of New Walls
If you are planning on constructing a new wall either up to, or astride, the boundary line, you are legally required to serve a Party Wall Notice upon the affected adjoining owner a minimum of one month in advance of the works commencing.
Party Wall procedures are there to assist both building owners and adjoining owners.
What are the Party Wall Notice Responses?
There are three different types of Party Wall Notice Responses that are available to an adjoining owner:
- Consenting to the Party Wall Notice
Consenting to the Party Wall Notice will mean that the adjoining owner is giving the building owner the legal go-ahead to proceed without any further formalities, as set out by the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
- Dissenting to the Party Wall Notice and appointing an Agreed Surveyor
Dissenting to the Party Wall Notice and appointing an Agreed Surveyor, will mean that the adjoining owner is allowing the building owner to use and share the same Surveyor that they have appointed. That Surveyor will then act impartially on behalf of the building owner and the adjoining owner, ultimately agreeing a Party Wall Award which will give them both legal protection and govern the proposed works that are taking place on site.
- Dissenting and appointing their own Party Wall Surveyor
If the adjoining owner selects this option, they will effectively be dissenting to the Party Wall Notice and appointing their own Party Wall Surveyor to act wholly on their behalf. The building owner will likewise then also need to appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor, and those two Surveyors will proceed and agree a Party Wall Award.
What happens if my neighbour does not serve a Party Wall Notice on me?
If the building owner who is undertaking the construction works fails to, or refuses to, serve a Party Wall Notice on the affected adjoining owner.
From a legal perspective the adjoining owner will need to proceed to the Courts and obtain a Party Wall Injunction.
A Party Wall Injunction will prohibit any further works taking place on site, until the correct party wall procedures have been adhered to.
What Happens if the Adjoining Owner Ignores my Party Wall Notice?
In the event that the adjoining owner doesn’t respond to the building owner’s Party Wall Notice, at this stage the building owner will be within their legal rights to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor on behalf of the non-responsive adjoining owner.
That Party Wall Surveyor will take on all of the same roles they would have had the adjoining owner appointed them directly.
The ultimate aim being that the building owner receives a Party Wall Award agreed by two respective Party Wall Surveyors which will ultimately give them their legal right to commence their work on site.
Can I Serve my own Party Wall Notice?
Yes, a building owner has the legal right to serve their own Party Wall Notice.
In fact in many cases if there is a good neighbourly relationship it can be the best way to approach the formal party wall procedures.
Here at Stokemont, we do have a free Party Wall Notice creator.
We would advise using if your neighbourly relations are very good, as it is very likely that you will be able to achieve a Party Wall Notice consent from the adjoining owner.
Which will ultimately save you the cost of having to serve the Party Wall Notice by a Party wall Surveyor.
When can I appoint a Party Wall Surveyor?
A Party Wall Surveyor can be formally and legally appointed, upon the receipt of a Party Wall Notice that has been served by the building owner.
Upon the receipt of the Party Wall Notice, the building owner would have invoked the Party Wall Act upon the adjoining owner, and thereby gives them the legal right to appoint a Surveyor to protect their interests.
In the context of a building owner, the building owner will formally instruct a Party Wall Surveyor to serve a Party Wall Notice, however that Party Wall Surveyor’s appointment will not become a formal one until the adjoining owner has registered their dissent to the Party Wall Notice.
How much do the Party Wall Surveying procedures cost?
This is a very common question, and is ultimately dependent upon a number of variables.
These include: the property location, the works that are being undertaken, number of adjoining owners to whom the work is applicable, as well as other factors to also take into account.
We would recommend getting in touch with our team of experienced and qualified Surveyors here at Stokemont, to fully discuss any cost concerns and enquiries that you may have, and we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.
Who pays for the Party Wall Surveying costs?
Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, it is the building owner, who is the owner undertaking the works, who is liable for the reasonable Party Wall Surveying costs.
These costs include, however are not limited to, the Surveyor’s costs, inspection costs, and the agreement of a Party Wall Award.
How Long do the Party Wall Procedures Take?
The time frames at which Party Wall procedures take will very much depend on the overall work that is taking place, the quality of the information to hand, the Party Wall Surveyors themselves and any other matters relating to the Party Wall matters.
It is always a difficult time frame to give, as in the very first instance Part Wall procedures timings are out of the hands of the Party Wall Surveyors or the building owner, and are effectively in the hands of the adjoining owner while their Party Wall Notice response is awaited.
We would advise discussing the Party Wall procedural timings with your Party Wall Surveyor in advance of embarking on them to ensure that you are well aware of any potential delays to your construction plans.
Are Party Wall Surveyors qualified?
Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, there is no formal qualification that a party wall surveyor needs to hold in order to use the title ‘Party Wall Surveyor’.
We would therefore very much advise that you select a Party Wall Surveyor based off their merit, experience and importantly qualifications that they hold.
The most well-recognised qualifications are the RICS, the CIOB, the CIArb and the CABE.
Can I Represent Myself as a Party Wall Surveyor?
No, owners, both building owner and adjoining owner, are unable to represent themselves in the Party Wall procedures.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 sets out that any Party Wall Surveyor must be someone who is wholly separate to the parties to which the Party Wall dispute surrounds.
What Do Party Wall Surveyors Do?
The Party Wall Surveyor’s role will be very much to look at the works from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property.
They will want to ensure that all of the associated risks that arise as a result of the building owner’s works have been considered and brought down to the minimal level possible.
Party Wall Surveyors will also undertake procedural elements such as the preparation of a Schedule of Condition report and the agreement of a Party Wall Award.
What is a Party Wall Award?
The Party Wall Award is a legal document, and is generally in place upon the conclusion of the party wall procedures.
The Award will not only govern the building owner’s proposed works, but importantly it will set out the types of protections that the adjoining owner is eligible for through the Act’s procedures.
Is it a Legal Requirement to have a Party Wall Award?
Yes, if the building owner’s work falls within the realm of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and the adjoining owner has dissented to the building owner’s Party Wall Notice.
It is a legal requirement to then have a Party Wall Award drawn up, agreed and served upon the respective building owner and adjoining owner.
The Party Wall Award is seen to conclude the party wall dispute that exists between the respective owners and ultimately gives the building owner the legal right to commence their proposed works.
Does the Party Wall Award Protect Me?
Yes, the Party Wall Award is a legal document and is in place to protect both the building owner and the adjoining owner in the event of issue.
The Party Wall Award will protect the building owner against any false claim or allegation of damage by the adjoining owner.
The Party Wall Award will protect the adjoining owner in the event of any genuine damage, it will also ensure that the building owner’s proposed construction works are considered by the Party Wall Surveyor or Party Wall Surveyors.
I’m Not Happy with the Party Wall Award?
If you have been served a Party Wall Award, from a legal perspective the party wall dispute has been concluded and resolved.
If you are unhappy with the content of the Party Wall Award, you do still have the legal right to appeal that Award.
However, we would advise taking legal action in advance of doing this, as Party Wall Award appeals can be a costly endeavour and in many cases may not be the most appropriate route for having your concern heard.
Can a Party Wall Award be agreed retrospectively?
No, unfortunately if the Party Wall procedures are not invoked in advance of the building owner’s construction works commencing, and those construction works are now complete, or alternatively are in the process of being undertaken, however the Party Wall element of the works are complete.
From a legal perspective, the window for which the Party Wall procedures would have been applicable would have passed.
This means that the protections afforded to an adjoining owner can no longer be invoked via the party wall procedures.
An adjoining owner will still have the protections that Common Law affords them, however these are slightly less protective than the Party Wall etc Act 1996 itself.
What is a Schedule of Condition Report?
A Schedule of Condition Report is a photographic and recorded record of the adjoining owner’s property in advance of the building owner’s construction works commencing.
The report is prepared and put in place to ensure that if there is any damage, or alleged damage resulting from the building owner’s work to the adjoining owner’s property, there is a sound record in place to ensure that the Party Wall Surveyors are able to determine if that damage is a result of the building owner’s works, and then deal with it appropriately.
What is a Third Surveyor?
A Third Surveyor is in place on every Two Surveyor Party Wall dispute.
In the event that the building owner has their own Party Wall Surveyor, as does the adjoining owner. The first thing those two respective Party Wall Surveyors will do is to select a Third Surveyor, with that Third Surveyor’s role being to determine any dispute that may arise between the two respective Surveyors or any combination of the owners and Surveyors.
The Third Surveyor will only ever be called upon formally in the event that there is a dispute, therefore it is worth bearing in mind that in many cases the Third Surveyors will not know they have been selected until there is an appropriate issue for them to resolve.
Will the Party Wall Surveyors Need to Visit my Property?
Yes, the Party Wall Surveyors will want to visit the adjoining owner’s property in advance of the building and its proposed construction works commencing.
The visit not only enables the Party Wall Surveyors to accommodate themselves with the adjoining owner’s property and the site overall, however it also gives them the opportunity to undertake the Schedule of Condition report of the adjoining owner’s property.
What Happens if I Don’t Agree with my Party Wall Surveyor?
In the event that you have a disagreement or fall out with your Party Wall Surveyor, fear not, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 has taken this into account.
If the Party Wall Surveyor is acting as an Agreed Surveyor, you will need to request the Surveyor’s complaint handling procedure (CHP).
The Surveyor will then be bound by their governing body to respond and resolve any dispute that may have arisen with you.
If the Party Wall Surveyor is acting wholly on your behalf, with a separate Party Wall Surveyor having been appointed for the neighbouring owner, then the first thing those two respective Party Wall Surveyors would have done at the start of the Party Wall Surveying procedures is to select a Third Surveyor.
The Third Surveyor’s role is to effectively resolve any disputes that may arise between the owners, or the Surveyors, or any combination of those.
What Happens if Damage Occurs?
If damage occurs to the adjoining owner’s property as a result of the building owner’s construction work, under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the building owner will be legally responsible for making good that damage to the satisfaction of the Party Wall Surveyor.
The common way that damage is dealt with is in two forms.
The first is that the building owner’s contractor will make good damage to the adjoining owner’s property.
The second is that the adjoining owner will be able to request a payment in lieu, which then enables them to instruct their own contractor in their own time to make good the damage.
The damage repair options are very much at the decision of the adjoining owner and should be free from any building owner, or Party Wall Surveyor bias or input.
Can my Neighbour Build on my Land?
Through the eyes of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the building owner does have the legal right to build upon an adjoining owner’s land, commonly this would be in the form of building a new flank wall astride the boundary line.
It is worth bearing in mind that they are only afforded this right upon the agreement of the adjoining owner.
Therefore if the adjoining owner was not happy with the proposal to build a new flank wall astride the boundary line, then the building owner will need to step the wall back to ensure that it is wholly on their line and up to the boundary line.
Can I stop my neighbour’s works?
This is a relatively common question that we are asked here at Stokemont. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 is a facilitating Act and therefore the building owner has the legal right to commence the works providing that they have gone through all the normal necessary steps during Consents.
The party wall procedures will ultimately include a Party Wall Award being agreed, with that Award protecting both the building owner and importantly the adjoining owner.
From a legal perspective, the building owner cannot commence their proposed works until that Party Wall Award is agreed and in place.
Our team of Surveyors are not only highly experienced but importantly they are also qualified.
We’re proud to confirm our Surveyors hold membership status and accreditation to some of the world’s leading professional governing bodies including; the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), The Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE), the Pyramus and Thisbe Club (P&T) and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR).
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