Party Wall Surveyors for Kent & London
The Party Wall Act 1996 is often overlooked by parties carrying out development work. For many, this piece of legislation is only learned of when they are just about to start work on site, or for many, when they have already begun. This can cause problems for both the person(s) undertaking the building works (known as the Building Owner) and also for the neighbour(s) to the person undertaking the work (known as the Adjoining Owner).
Person Carrying Out Works – The ‘Building Owner’
You will need to comply with the requirements of The Party Wall etc Act 1996 if you are intending to carry out certain building works to any part of a wall or floor separating different buildings regardless of whether the buildings are residential or commercial. Also if you intend to carry out excavations close to an adjoining owner’s property, then you may also need to comply with The Party Wall Act. Other works to external party ‘fence’ walls (typically shared garden/yard walls) may require notice, as will somebody wishing to build a new wall at the boundary line (otherwise termed at the ‘Line of Junction’. In such cases, you will need to give notice(s) to the ‘Adjoining Owner(s)’.
Adkins Consultants who operate from their base in Maidstone are able to cover London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
Neighbour to the Works – The ‘Adjoining Owner(s)’
If you are a neighbour to a building project, you may be classed as an ‘Adjoining Owner’. You should receive a formal notice from the Building Owner advising you of the intended works and seeking your consent. If you have concerns, you are entitled to appoint your own surveyor to represent you and protect your interests.
The Building Owner carrying out the works should pay for the ‘reasonable fees’ of this surveyor. If you are unsure about whether the works will be party wall works, please give us a call. Each party can insist upon having their ‘own’ surveyor. A surveyor must act independently; they are not there to act as your agent, they are there to make sure the legislation is implemented correctly. This approach will involve the Building Owner usually having to meet the costs of both surveyors. The Act does allow for both neighbours to agree in the appointment of just one surveyor, see below.
If a dispute arises, then each party, if both in agreement, may appoint the same surveyor to act as an independent surveyor, known in the Act as the ‘Agreed Surveyor’. This allows the Surveyor to implement the legislation independently, to resolve a dispute, ensuring the legislation is followed. The Agreed Surveyor is not there to ‘take sides’. The appointment really is an independent one, and as such, is a valid option reinforced by the inclusion of this option in the legislation.
At Adkins Consultants, all our surveyors are experienced Building Surveyors, regulated by Chartered Institute of Building. In addition, our Directors, have also undergone additional training and assessment to become a Member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors.
We therefore pride ourselves on our level of knowledge, and our impartiality, in being able to advise you soundly on the complexities of this piece of legislation. We also are here to help you through the process, without charging you unnecessarily high fees. We never seek to ‘run up’ time related fees, which is particularly important when often it is one side who ends up paying for professional fees.
Frequently Asked Questions about Party Walls
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.
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.
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
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.
- Building along the boundary between two properties
- Excavating within prescribed distances of shared or adjoining structures
- Altering a party structure
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.
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.
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.