Frequent Asked Questions
Party wall matters can seem very complex and daunting, so there are no stupid questions. To save any confusion, we’ve put together these frequently asked questions to help you navigate your situation and when you need the help of a professional, Adkins Consultants is on hand with free party wall advice on 01622 236500 or 02038 051078.
1. What is a party wall?
In simple terms a ‘party wall’ separates the land of two (or more) owners.
The wall typically strides both owners land (Type A) or it can sit wholly on one owner’s land but be used by both owners (TYPE B). For example, one neighbour has a building structure that leans against a wall that is owned by the other neighbour, or between two gardens in masonry (known as a party fence wall).
A party wall may not necessarily have a boundary running through its centre line for the whole of its length but for only part of its length.
2. I live in a flat. How does party wall work for me?
You can also have a ‘party structure’. This could be a floor or other structure that separates buildings or parts of buildings with different owners, e.g. flats.
3. What is the Party Wall etc. Act?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is a legal act that is essentially there to help! It provides a framework to help owners prevent or resolve any disputes that may happen regarding the party wall.
4. What does the Party Wall etc. Act cover?
- Building along the boundary between two properties
- Excavating within prescribed distances of shared or adjoining structures
- Altering a party structure
Property owner 1: I want to build along the party wall, what steps do I take?
In residential circumstances, Party Wall agreements are frequently used for building work that involves a loft conversion, the insertion of damp proof courses and extensions, where are you are required to dig new foundations. Obviously, there are other scenarios, but these are the most common. If you are about to undertake building work that sits astride or next to the party wall, here are some things to consider?
You must serve notice
Even the best of neighbours can fall out, so avoid ‘over the wall’ friendly agreements and follow the Party Wall Act, which states you must serve notice and sets out the information that should be included in this notice, namely: name and address of both parties, signed by building owner (or representative), sufficient description of proposed works and planned start date. A homeowner must give two months written notice on building works which affect a party wall or boundary, or one month’s notice for excavations.
Neighbour (adjoining owner)
The adjoining owner has 14 days to respond and there are typically three possible outcomes:
- A party wall agreement – when both parties consent to the work that is due to take place. The agreement is a legal document and provides a framework of how the work will be conducted and processes for disputes to be resolved.
- A party wall award – if the adjoining owner(s) dissents the notice or does not respond within 14 days, a party wall is required.
What is a Party Wall Award?
A Party Wall Award is a legal document. This means that both the building owner and adjoining owner(s) must appoint party wall surveyors under section 10 of the Party Wall Act. You can either jointly agree upon a single party wall surveyor or you can each appoint different party wall surveyors. The Party Wall Award will include:
- Timings and manner of the proposed work
- A schedule of condition – a record of the condition of the adjoining owner’s property, in case any damage is caused during the building work
- Project drawings
- Financial protection, slightly bias to the adjoining owner
Who pays for it all?
If you are the building owner set some money aside to pay for the party wall, as most of the bill sits with you, including the adjoining owner(s) surveyor, should they decide to appoint someone independently.
There are several common mistakes that Party Wall Surveyors encounter:
- Starting work without getting permission
- Not providing enough detail on your notice
- Not following the correct timelines
Ensure you have the correct advice and contact Adkins Consultants for all your Party Wall Advice on 01622 236500 or 02038 051078.
Do you harbour dreams of building your own home from scratch? Are you struggling to get on the property ladder? Or perhaps you’ve watched too much Grand Designs! Over 13,000 people a year decide to self-build and Adkins Consultants could help make your dream a reality. Here’s what to consider:
How can I find land?
The obvious one, you need land to build on! The dream is to find the perfect plot of land in your desired area just waiting to be purchased, but if it is not happening that way, you might consider some alternatives!
Consider older properties which often sit on larger plots so you might be able to build next to an existing house or demolish an existing property and rebuild. Remember to check out the auctions and speak to residents in the area, word of mouth is always a help!
Get your finances in order!
Unlike the tv shows, self-builds don’t need to a money-pit if you are careful and realistic with your budgets from the outset. Purchasing the land is only one big expense but depending on your own areas of expertise you will need professionals to help with the designing, building, legal requirements as well as employing the latest technology for your brand-new abode.
Who would you need to employ to get the house built?
Depending on your own time and availability, you might consider a Project Manager, who will manage the self-build from start to finish. The Project Manager, will liaise with your subcontractors on your behalf, keep the project running to time and budget.
You’ll most definitely need an Architect to design the dream house, a structural engineer to ensure it is built correctly and a construction team to put it together.
At Adkins Consultants we can manage the whole process for you, including the planning permission, building regulations and structural calculations or whatever you need us to help on?
What is planning permission, and do I need it to build my own house?
Planning permission is your Local Authority granting the right to build on land and you will need this to build your own property? It is also worth considering that, while planning permission can be relatively inexpensive, compared to your final build costs it can be a very lengthy process.
What are building regulations?
Building regulations help ensure new builds are safe, robust and high-performing, as well as energy-efficient.
There are specific building regulations for various aspects of building including drainage, access, fire protection and acoustics to name a few! A building inspector will need to be employed to ensure you are meeting standards.
What do I need to consider when planning utilities?
While Gas and Electric can be considered at a later date, it is necessary to start the water process as early as possible and you, or the Project Manager, would need to be in touch with your local water supplier as early as possible.
How long will it take to build a house?
Once you have permission, it can take around 6-10 months to self-build. Obviously, weather can play its part in delays, but the more due diligence and effective planning you do the less surprises you will encounter on the way!
Don’t be afraid to ask! At Adkins Consultants, we are happy to explore your ideas and answer any questions you may have, as well as provide a free no obligation quote.
- What is a structural engineer?
A structural engineer is an engineer who specialises in the structure of buildings. They determine the strength and durability of a structure – i.e. a building, bridge etc. – and are a key professional in the construction process. A structural engineer assesses a building’s safety. If you are considering building and renovation projects, for example a loft conversion or the removal of a wall, they can provide specifications and calculations for the design, as well as suggesting building materials.
- Why should I use a structural engineer?
A structural engineer can offer expert advice on building and construction work for residential and commercial projects. Essentially, any project that alters the structure of the building or requires building control approval will require the expertise of a structural engineer
- How do I choose a structural engineer?
There are many types of structural engineer with experience of working on a huge variety of structures. For a home renovation or inspection, you will need to hire a structural engineer with experience of residential work, so they might have a specialism depending on your project. The best way to choose a structural engineer is to look back at their experience and their accreditation.
- What is the difference between a structural engineer and a chartered surveyor?
The term chartered surveyor applies to a varied profession that can generally be summed up as advising on landed property. This can include people who have specialisms in everything from valuing domestic or commercial property, advising on large scale construction projects, evaluating the environmental impact of property development, assessing the physical state of land or property, and a myriad of other specialist areas in between.
As a chartered surveyor you must be a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which includes passing their stringent qualifications, signing up to their code of professional ethics and undertaking thorough continuing professional development.
A structural Engineer specifically looks at the structure and will assess that.
- Why Do you need a structural engineer?
A structural engineer specialises in the structure of buildings, determining a project’s strength, durability, and safety. A structural engineer will tell you what steel beams need to be in place, where to put them, whether your structural glass has the strength for your home and advise on the foundations of your project. Structural engineering is so important to so many areas of your home. Structural engineers will often work alongside your architect and contractor, to make sure your home is as safe as it can possibly be.
A structural engineer will be required for the following jobs:
- Building an extension
- Converting a loft
- Removing / modifying internal walls, especially load bearing walls
- Fitting solar panels
- Underpinning walls
- Modifying / adding doors and windows
- Removing a chimney breast
- Anything that involves building regulations!
- What qualifications should a good structural engineer hold?
A structural engineer will hold a degree or post graduate award in structural engineering, architectural engineering or civil and structural Engineering.
A structural engineer, might hold further accreditations or be a member of a Professional Body:
IEng: Incorporated engineer (IEng) are professional engineers who maintain, manage and apply current and developing technology.
MCABE – Chartered Membership (MCABE) recognises an individual’s professional competence as a fully qualified Building Engineer, which is demonstrated through a mix of academic qualifications and practical experience.
CbuildE – Chartered Association of Building Engineers
- Are you insured?
All Adkins Consultant’s engineers are covered by the necessary Public Liability and Employers Liability Insurance.
- Can you meet my schedule?
We would be pleased to discuss any project with you and create a project plan that meets your schedule where possible.
- Can I get a project estimate?
Adkins Consultants would be happy to discuss plans with you, give advice and get as much information as we can to provide you with the most accurate and best price possible.
- How Much does an inspection cost?
An initial site visit starts at £350+ VAT. There may be an increase in charge depending on the location, but all fees will be discussed and agreed before any work is undertaken.
- What can I/my company do to keep a project on track or within budget?
There are several tools you can use to keep your project on track:
- Use spreadsheets and lists, and track as much information as you can
- Set clear deadlines
- Hold regular project update meetings
- Organise materials far in advance to avoid delays
- Always build a contingency into your budget and timeline to allow for any unexpected issue.
- What new rules or regulations are going to affect my project?
Building regulations are updated continually to allow for best practice and different regulations affect different projects. You will need Building Control to check any building work you do but a good structural engineer will also be able to offer advice. At Adkins Consultants we would be happy to guide you through the process.
- Why do you think you’re the right firm for this project?
Adkins Consultants engineers are qualified and experienced, but there is no standard approach. Each project is unique, and we will work with you to bring your ideas to life to an excellent standard.
- Have you done similar projects to mine?
Absolutely. We have done a range of projects from residential to commercial. While every project is different, we would be glad to find a relevant case study to help you visualise the work you intend to do.
- Can we save this building?
One of our Engineers would be pleased to come and view the building. We will offer our sound structural advice and offer any practices we can to save the building. If this is not possible, we can recommend a course of action to remove and rebuild safely.
- I have heard about this new (material, approach, etc). Can we do that on our project?
All our engineers are following the latest trends in structural engineer and if it can be done safely and works with your project, we would be glad to try an alternative approach.
- Do you prefer to work on design/build or design/bid/build projects? Why?
Adkins Consultants like all projects. We enjoy bringing your ideas to life, whether that’s providing calculations for the removal of a wall or projecting managing a self-build home from start to finish.
- Once the design is complete, will you still be involved in the project?
We can be involved in the project as much as you need. This might be an initial site visit or complete project management.
- Does the structural engineer have familiarity with your proposed project delivery method – Design and Build or Design-Build?
Adkins Consultants engineers have worked on a variety of projects.
- Does the structural engineer use REVIT® or another BIM software package to complete the construction documents?
At Adkins Consultants we have invested in the very latest software.
- What type of service will you get after the construction documents are completed?
Just because the construction documents are completed, does not mean you can’t stay in touch. If you need information, advice or additional work done, we will be happy to help.
- What Are Your Specialities?
Adkins Consultants employ a strong and experienced team of structural engineers, with expertise in a range of fields including design, flood defence, expert witness work and project management.
- Does the structural engineer have the staff on hand to complete the project by the deadline?
Adkins Consultants has a team of engineers who would be happy to help you complete your project. Please call the office and we will be able to discuss your requirements and create a proposal that works to your budget and timeline, where possible.
- What statutory consents do I need?
It depends on the type of work you are doing and the type of building you are doing it to.
If you are working on a listed building for example, you will need to apply for listed building consent if either of the following cases apply:
- You want to demolish a listed building
- You want to alter or extend a listed building in a manner which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.
You may also need listed building consent for any works to separate buildings within the grounds of a listed building. Check the position carefully with the council, it is a criminal offence to carry out work which needs listed building consent without obtaining it beforehand.
Building regulations will need to be met on any project type and Adkins Consultants can guide you through the process.
- Does the party wall act apply to these works?
The party wall act applies to all work taking place along the party wall. There is a party wall process (hyperlink to relevant page on the website) that needs to be followed and we have lots of resources for you to read on this site or please call us on 01622 236500 for free advice.
- How do CDM regulations impact on this project?
The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) are the main set of regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects. CDM applies to all building and construction work and includes new build, demolition, refurbishment, extensions, conversions, repair and maintenance. All reputable construction and structural engineers should follow this practice.
- Will a build over agreement be needed?
A Build Over Agreement is required where building work is to take place close to (within 3 metres of) or over the route of an existing public sewer or drain.
A Build Over Agreement gives the Water Company assurance that the work to be carried out will not negatively affect the sewer below and it also ensures that the Water Company will still have sufficient access to the sewer so it can be repaired and maintained. If you are planning on building close to or over a public sewer you should contact the Water Company prior to the work being carried out to ascertain their requirements.