Party Wall Notice Options – The Basics

Thursday, 13th February 2020 | by: Matthew Price

Here at Peter Barry, we serve hundreds of notices in any given year. Once a neighbour receives a notice they are a range of response options. Whilst to us as Chartered Surveyors these seem straight forward and obvious, we take plenty of phone calls that suggest that to the majority of people it is in fact not.

This article will look to unravel much of the technical language and make the choices a lot clearer.

Before we begin…

The Act came into force in 1996, over two decades ago at the time of writing. For purspective, Wannabe by the Spice Girls was the year’s best sellling record (or rather CD) and we were fearfull of mad cow disease instead of coronovius.

Much of the Act’s wording let alone procedures are not fit for purpose and confusing. Two of the more obvious ones are:

Building Owner = Person doing works

Adjoining Owner = Neighbour

Option 1 – Consent

The first thing that needs to be made clear is that neighbours are not agreeing or disagreeing whether the works should go ahead or whether they agree with the design. These issues need to be lodged with the Council as part of the planning consultations process.

Consenting to the works is the neighbour confirming that they are happy for the work to proceed without any review from a surveyor. This is an apporpriate choice where the works are very minor and have very little chance of causing issues or damage.

A rear extension that is 2.5m away from the neighbouring property is a good example.

Schedule of Condition

It is advised that a schedule of condition is undertaken, which is a written and photographic record of the property before work starts. The benefits are:

  1. Neighbour is protected in the event of damage
  2. Person doing the work is protected against inproper claims of damage

Option 2 – Dissent and Appoint Agreed Surveyor

Here, the neighbour is saying that they want a singular surveyor to agree a Party Wall Award. Some key points:

  • There is no client relationship so there is no conflict of interest
  • The surveyor is duty bound to act impartially

Their role will include but not be limited to:

  • A schedule of condition of the neighbour’s property
  • Review of proposals to make sure they do not negatively affect the neighbour
  • Additional information or redesigns from the architect or engineer
  • Returning once works are complete to check for damage

The award will include but not be limited to:

  • Permitted works
  • How they are to be undertaken
  • Working hours
  • Rights of both neighbour e.g. right to access land to build flank wall of extension, right to compensation

Option 3 – Dissent and Appoint Own Surveyor

The two surveyors undertake the same roles as option 2 and are still required to act impartially.

The person doing the work is responsible for the reasonable fee of their neighbour’s surveyor.

Fees more than double and the time taken to serve an award increases significantly.

Conclusion

Hopefully that has taken some of the unknown factor out of notice responses.

Those undertaking works naturally worry about excessive fees once neighbours appoint their own survey(s) so 12 months ago we reviewed our procedures to try and find a solution.

New working practices have now seen additional surveyor appointments drop by over 70%. This saves masses of time, money and often neighbourly relationships.

If you want to find out how we do this, please email or phone us on 020 7183 2578 and we will be more than happy to tell you how.

 

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