In today’s property blog post topic, we are going to be taking a look at party wall surveying procedures.
One of the most common questions we find ourselves asked here at Stokemont is whether a party wall surveyor has the legal jurisdiction to deal with boundary lines.
This will often come into play as the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 does indeed deal with the construction of new walls up to or astride the line of junction under Section 1 of the Act.
This is formally set out as follows:
(1) This section shall have effect where lands of different owners adjoin and—
(a) are not built on at the line of junction; or
(b) are built on at the line of junction only to the extent of a boundary wall (not being a party fence wall or the external wall of a building),and either owner is about to build on any part of the line of junction.
(2) If a building owner desires to build a party wall or party fence wall on the line of junction he shall, at least one month before he intends the building work to start, serve on any adjoining owner a notice which indicates his desire to build and describes the intended wall.
(3) If, having been served with notice described in subsection (2), an adjoining owner serves on the building owner a notice indicating his consent to the building of a party wall or party fence wall—
(a) the wall shall be built half on the land of each of the two owners or in such other position as may be agreed between the two owners; and
(b) the expense of building the wall shall be from time to time defrayed by the two owners in such proportion as has regard to the use made or to be made of the wall by each of them and to the cost of labour and materials prevailing at the time when that use is made by each owner respectively.
(4) If, having been served with notice described in subsection (2), an adjoining owner does not consent under this subsection to the building of a party wall or party fence wall, the building owner may only build the wall—
(a) at his own expense; and
(b) as an external wall or a fence wall, as the case may be, placed wholly on his own land,and consent under this subsection is consent by a notice served within the period of fourteen days beginning with the day on which the notice described in subsection (2) is served.
(5) If the building owner desires to build on the line of junction a wall placed wholly on his own land he shall, at least one month before he intends the building work to start, serve on any adjoining owner a notice which indicates his desire to build and describes the intended wall.
(6) Where the building owner builds a wall wholly on his own land in accordance with subsection (4) or (5) he shall have the right, at any time in the period which—
(a) begins one month after the day on which the notice mentioned in the subsection concerned was served, and
(b) ends twelve months after that day,to place below the level of the land of the adjoining owner such projecting footings and foundations as are necessary for the construction of the wall.
(7) Where the building owner builds a wall wholly on his own land in accordance with subsection (4) or (5) he shall do so at his own expense and shall compensate any adjoining owner and any adjoining occupier for any damage to his property occasioned by—
(a) the building of the wall;
(b) the placing of any footings or foundations placed in accordance with subsection (6).
(8) Where any dispute arises under this section between the building owner and any adjoining owner or occupier it is to be determined in accordance with section 10.
As the Party Wall Act deals with line of junction, also known as boundary lines, the common misconception is that the boundary lines are determined by party wall surveyors.
This is not the case.
The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 doesn’t give party wall surveyors the jurisdiction or coverage to deal with boundary disputes, and therefore, it is something that both a building owner and adjoining owner should be conscious of when embarking on works in close proximity to boundary lines.
If there is some form of boundary dispute that pre-exists, or predates the party wall notice that has been served, the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 is unlikely to be the vessel that can solve/resolve the issue. However, it should be worth noting that a number of the issues that are in dispute are likely to be naturally resolved through the party wall procedures and the agreement of a Party Wall Award.
Party wall surveying procedures will naturally see party wall surveyors visiting both building owner and adjoining owner properties in advance of the proposed works commencing.
During the inspection, the party wall surveyors will be completing a Schedule of Condition report of the adjoining owner’s property to ensure that there is a record in place in the event of issue or damage.
During this inspection, the surveyors are also given the opportunity to fully inspect the land and property, thereby ensuring that they are accommodated with the lay of the land. It is at this stage, where surveyors are likely to be able to offer input or advice on the matter in dispute. In many cases here at Stokemont, we find this can go a long way to help resolve any boundary issues. Alternatively, the input can actually resolve the boundary issue.
However, this will all depend on the severity of the dispute and if it’s of a more complex nature then we would advise that boundary surveyors are instructed, as they will not only be able to undertake a dedicated and in depth site inspection, they will also be able to undertake extensive and comprehensive desktop research and analysis of the boundary and the property so they can fully understand all the facts to hand.
In any event, it is important to note that boundary disputes are not a rare matter. Here at Stokemont, our take on it is that as many boundaries as there are, there are as many boundary disputes.
Boundary disputes can occur incredibly easily as boundary lines will be adjusted and changed over the tenure of their lives, when works are being undertaken, or simply through planned maintenance and upgrade of things such as timber fences.
The first starting point to resolving any boundary dispute is to speak to your neighbour. In many cases, what would appear to be a major issue can often be comfortably resolved through neighbourly, or owner to owner discussion which can save a lot of stress, and the associated cost that can come with a boundary surveyor’s report.
If that is an option, don’t panic, there are a number of surveying companies out there, ours included, that are for boundary services.
We would therefore be able to provide you with full professional input so you can fully understand an arm’s length and impartial position of the boundary dispute and position of the boundary line.
If you would like to discuss boundary surveying with our team of qualified and experienced surveyors, you can give us a call today and we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.
Equally, if your enquiry is of a party wall surveying nature, we also offer party wall surveying services and would be more than happy to assist you in that regard. In any event, whether it is boundary surveying, or party wall surveying, feel free to take us up on our free, 30-minutes, no strings advice, where we can discuss the matter at hand, review drawings, review photographs and generally speaking, offer you impartial advice to hopefully help resolve the issue without the need for professional input.
Here at Stokemont, over the years, we have undertaken thousands of party wall surveying disputes, and boundary disputes, and consider ourselves experts in both of these respective fields.