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This article is aimed at those who you have received a notice of works from a neighbour. You should note the following terms when reviewing your options on how to proceed below:
The Party Wall Act has no mechanism for you to block any building projects being undertaken but serves to ensure that all works are undertaken in a safe and correct manner to reduce the possibility of structural issues or damage to the properties. A ‘Party Wall’ is defined in the footnote of this article for your reference and The Party Wall Act is intended to clearly define all parties and their responsibilities under the Act.
For further information about Party Wall matters including when the act is triggered, you can read our ‘18 FAQs about the Party Wall Act’ article which covers some frequently asked questions.
If you have received a Party Wall Notice, you are the ‘Adjoining Owner’, and you must submit a formal response within 14 days and have three options on how to do so;
If you choose this option you are effectively giving your neighbour the green light to proceed with their project with no responsibility for any damage the works may cause to your property.
This is not recommended as by giving this consent, there is no written evidence provided from a Surveyor as to the condition of the property prior to works beginning. This is required for your neighbour to be held responsible for any damaged caused as a result of their building works.
Here you appoint the same surveyor as your neighbour to undertake a condition report of your property prior to the commencement of any buildings works. The surveyor will conduct a site visit and prepare a report which will outline the current condition of both properties. If anything negatively impacts your property during the build this document can then be used as evidence of its previous state and it will be the Building Owners responsibility to rectify and reinstate your property to the original condition at their cost.
The Surveyor will act independently when assessing both properties and under the Act, the costs of the surveyor are required to be covered by your neighbour. ‘The Building Owner’
This is very similar to option two however you are choosing to appoint a Party Wall surveyor not already instructed by the Building Owner. The process followed will be the same as option two above and the costs of the surveyor will still be required to be covered by your neighbour.
Should you miss the 14 day deadline to submit your response, option one above becomes obsolete.
You will receive a follow up notice which will be valid for a further 10 days and you are required to formally respond to this stating whether you would like to instruct the same surveyor as your neighbour or appoint your chosen surveyor, the site visits and the Party Wall Award allowing works to proceed will be granted from there.
Should you not respond to this second notice, then the surveyor instructed by your neighbour will have the power to instruct another independent surveyor to undertake a condition report on your behalf. This is in accordance with section 10(4) of the Party Wall Act. Once this is complete, a Party Wall Award will be granted and your neighbour can proceed with their project.
Source: communities and local government the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 explanatory booklet.
Parties are usually referred to as the ‘Building Owner’ [The party conducting works] and the ‘Adjoining Owner’ the party that may be affected by the planned works. There may be multiple ‘Adjoining Owners’