Party Wall Notices & Awards
Julian Wilkins & Co. Chartered Surveyors have aided clients throughout Sussex in party wall matters. We can guide you through the process of dealing with Party Wall Awards when carrying out building works that involve Party Walls or Structures under the Party Wall, etc. Act 1996
Whether you are the “Building Owner” or the “Adjoining Building Owner” our specialist Party Wall Surveyors will be able to advise you of the necessary steps. The Party Wall, etc. Act 1996 is designed to protect both the owner of the property where the work is being carried out and their next door neighbours. The Act covers three distinct types of work:
- Alterations to party walls or structures,
- Construction of new walls at the boundary between two properties,
- Excavation near to neighbouring properties.
These are some typical examples of work that is likely to be covered by the Act:
- Loft conversions often require strengthening beams to be cut into Party Walls for additional support,
- Chimney breasts that need to be removed are often attached to a party wall,
- Excavating new foundations for an extension within 3 metres of an adjacent building.
Where work falls within the scope of the Act the Building Owner is best advised to serve notice to any Adjoining Owners under the Act as it allows them to carry out works that might otherwise be considered illegal. Typically, Party Wall Notices are prepared by a Party Wall Surveyor appointed by the Building Owner. The Adjoining Owners can then either give their “consent” or “dissent”. Dissenting does not mean that the work is stopped and cannot go ahead. Instead it means that the Adjoining Owner can appoint a Party Wall Surveyor to represent their side of the wall. Party Wall Surveyors have a statutory responsibility to protect the best interests of the wall. The Act allows for the same surveyor to be appointed by each of the owners; in that scenario the surveyor will act as “Agreed Surveyor” and impartially regulate matters affecting both owners.
If you are planning to undertake works that fall within the scope of the Act then you should start planning early; notice periods are either 1 or 2 months depending upon the type of work but where complex works are to be undertaken it can take longer than that for an award to be agreed.
It’s also a good idea to speak to your neighbours before serving the formal notice. If your neighbours feel that they have been kept informed then they are likely to be much more amenable to the process overall.
The first time an “Adjoining Owner” becomes aware of their neighbour’s proposed works is often when a party wall notice is posted through their letterbox. Should you decide to respond to the notice by dissenting then a “dispute” arises and each owner must appoint a surveyor so that a party wall award can be agreed and served. A party wall award is a legally binding document that sets out who the parties are, includes details of the proposed work and what safeguards have been agreed to ensure that those works are undertaken with the minimum of risk and without causing unnecessary inconvenience to the adjoining occupiers.