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THE PARTY WALL ETC. ACT 1996
The Party Wall Act covers three distinct types of work:
Alterations to a shared (party) wall or structure
The construction of a new wall at or over/across the boundary
Excavation work close to neighbouring properties
Where work falls within the scope of the Act it is necessary for a building owner (the party carrying out the works) to serve a notice and obtain the affected adjoining owner’s (the relevant neighbour/s) consent.
If consent is not given the parties are deemed to be ‘in dispute’ under the Act. In such a case, a party wall surveyor (or two) must be appointed so that the dispute can be resolved by way of a party wall award (a formal agreement).
Adjoining owner Often adjoining owners only become aware of their neighbour’s plans to extend when they receive a party wall notice. The adjoining owner has the option to either CONSENT or DISSENT to a notice.
If there is no response within 14 days the parties are deemed to be in dispute under the Act.
Where a dispute arises each owner must appoint a surveyor so that a party wall award can be agreed. They can also appoint just one ‘agreed surveyor’. This can save time, money and help reduce the potential for disputes. Ideally, this should happen in most cases where an award is required.
The costs incurred are normally the responsibility of the party undertaking the building work - the Building Owner but there are exceptions.
Building owner An owner planning to undertake works that fall within the scope of the Act should start planning early.
Notice periods are 1 or 2 months depending upon the type of work. Ask your surveyor for details specific to your proposed work.
It is sensible for the building owner to speak to their neighbours before serving the formal notice. Keeping the neighbours well informed and ‘on side’ may help prevent extra costs incurred. For example where the adjoining owner/s wish to appoint their own surveyor/s. The final bill can double and even triple in such cases.
Coburns Party Wall are happy to check over your plans (no charge or obligation) to confirm whether the works come within the scope of the Act and if necessary draft the required notice(s).
In the event of a dispute (following the service of notice) the Act allows for one surveyor to be appointed by each of the owners or for them to appoint a single ‘agreed surveyor’. Having a good surveyor prepare your notice, a building owner can increase the chances of having that surveyor adopted as the ‘agreed surveyor’ which can significantly impact on your final bill (for the better).