Thank you for clicking on today’s Property Surveying blog post, today we are going to be looking at party wall surveying procedures.
This blog will take a focused look at the scenarios that can come into play if Section 1 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies to the proposed construction works.
To many party wall surveyors Section 1 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 will be well known and understood.
However, for building owners and adjoining owners alike, it is very unlikely that they are going to know a great deal about the specifics and procedures that can come into play when a Section 1 Party Wall Notice is served.
In this blog post we are going to take a closer look at these, in the hope of helping you fully understand the necessary procedures.
Section 1 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the planned construction of new walls up to, or astride the boundary line.
In layman’s terms, this means that if the building owner is planning on building the flank wall of their new extension, or perhaps building a new boundary wall to their garden up to or astride the boundary line that separates their property and their neighbour’s property, through the eyes of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, and particularly Section 1, they will have the legal duty to serve a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner.
Party Wall Notice Timings
Section 1 Party Wall Notices carry a one month statutory notice period.
In layman’s terms, this means that if the building owner serves a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner will be in a legal position to request the building owner hold off commencing those works for a period of one month from the date of the notice service.
In normal circumstances, it is incredibly rare for an adjoining owner to uphold the statutory notice period of one month.
Instead, should the adjoining owner choose to consent to the Party Wall Notice, it is often also written into the consent acknowledgement, that the statutory notice period is waived.
Equally, if the adjoining owner was to dissent, in many cases the timings to agree the Party Wall Award.
The Party Wall Award following on from the Party Wall Notice dissent will often take circa one month to formalise, agree and serve.
This therefore means that the statutory notice period becomes somewhat irrelevant.
Can I dissent to a Section 1 Notice?
Within the surveying profession, there tends to be two camps when it comes to an adjoining owner’s right to dissent to a Section 1 Party Wall Notice.
Some surveyors will take the opinion that an adjoining owner is not given the legal right to dissent to a Party Wall Notice when served under Section 1.
Other party wall surveyors taking the position that dissenting to the Party Wall Notice is a perfectly valid and all to be expected Party Wall Notice response.
Here at Stokemont, our take on it is that an adjoining owner does indeed have the legal right to dissent.
In many cases the reason that a building owner will serve a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner under Section 1 is to gain the legal right of access.
In gaining this legal right of access onto the adjoining owner’s land, the Act has built in provisions and scenarios to enable the building owner to safely construct a new and proposed wall.
Importantly, the building owner will also be given the legal right to properly finish the flank wall.
If a building owner was not afforded the right of access, they would have to effectively build the wall overhand. Overhand construction is very much as it sounds, the contractor will literally need to lean over the boundary line and build the wall overhand, brick by brick, or block by block, doing this one course at a time.
This will not only take an increased amount of time, it will also usually result in incredibly poor aesthetic appearance to the new flank wall.
The all important consideration here that an adjoining owner should make, is that ultimately they are going to be the person who benefits from the aesthetics when it comes to that new flank wall, as in many cases it will border their garden.
Therefore ensuring that the neatness and cleanest finish to that new flank wall is imperative.
Does a Building Owner have the Legal Right of Access?
Again, another hotly debated topic amongst the surveying profession with surveyors.
There are a vast number of party wall surveyors who do not believe that Section 1 works and the construction of new walls up to or astride the boundary line give a building owner the right of access.
Equally, there are plenty of party wall surveyors who do.
Our take on it here at Stokemont, is that a building owner is indeed afforded the legal right of access onto an adjoining owner’s land when a Section 1 Notice is served.
Party wall access is governed under Section 8 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
Section 8 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is set out as follows:
A building owner, his servants, agents and workmen may during usual working hours enter and remain on any land or premises for the purpose of executing any work in pursuance of this Act and may remove any furniture or fittings or take any other action necessary for that purpose.
This legal right of access as set out above is to ensure that a building owner can safely construct the flank wall of their proposed development in a time and cost effective manner.
Equally, it also ensures that they are able to neatly finish the wall as we have discussed and described above.
If a building owner wasn’t afforded this legal right of access, they would have no recourse or means to construct the flank wall of their property.
While this may not necessarily be a major issue for single storey developments, for developments of new walls that are two storeys or higher, it is to be expected that Building Regulations and Health and Safety will require some form of working platform on the adjoining owner’s land.
Therefore, taking a common sense approach to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the Act has looked at this exact scenario and taken it into account, thereby ensuring building owners are able to complete flank walls of their planned extension, both safely, time effectively and without onerous cost provisions.
It should be worth noting, that access will be closely guarded and covered by the terms and coverage of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
If indeed access is to be awarded, it will have to be done so via a Party Wall surveyor’s Party Wall Award.
This Party Wall Award is going to ensure that key specifics of the access have all been taken into account.
These key specifics often being:
- The time and duration of the access.
- The working hours of the access.
- Limitations on the extent, width and length of the access.
- Health and Safety provisions during the course of the access.
- Security provisions during the course of the access.
- Making good to the adjoining owner’s garden, land or air space post awarded access.
- Scenarios with access overstay.
These are all going to ensure that while an adjoining owner does suffer short term nuisance and inconvenience, both of these respective sufferings are not unnecessarily extended.
If you are planning on undertaking construction works to your property and believe that you will need to serve a Section 1 Notice on the adjoining owner, we would advise discussing this particular point with your contracting team as early as possible.
Ultimately you will want to ensure that they have some form of protocol or procedure in place to handle the access as a whole.
You can then present this fact and information to your adjoining owner in the hope that they not only understand what will shortly be taking place in their garden, land or air space, but they also have full understanding of exactly how inconvenience will be avoided for them.
If you would like to discuss your planned construction works with our team of experienced and qualified party wall surveyors here at Stokemont, please feel free to give us a call today, we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.