When should I start thinking about my Party Wall obligations?
Party Wall Notices are often last on the to do list of Building Owners when they plan their works. However, leaving Party Wall matters until the last minute can result in delays to your project.
If your neighbour dissents to your works and appoints a surveyor to act on their behalf, they may have several questions about your proposals that need to be answered before your work can go ahead.
Getting a professional to answer questions can take time. The surveyor may be busy on other projects and not able to deal with your matters straightaway, or they may even be about to jet off on holiday.
For this reason, once the necessary design details are available, Notices should be served as soon as possible.
What timescales does the Party Wall Act set out?
If you are planning to carry out excavation works, or are building a new wall at the boundary line, you must give your neighbour a minimum of one month’s notice before commencing works.
For party structure works, such as cutting into a Party Wall to insert steel beams, you must give your neighbour a minimum of two months’ notice.
To find out more about the three types of Party Wall Notices covered in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, we have several explainer videos on our YouTube channel.
Is it possible to start building works before the end of the Notice period?
If your neighbour is happy to consent to your Party Wall notices, your neighbour can agree to you starting works before the end of the Notice period, but you can only go ahead if they authorise you to do so in writing.
For this reason, we highly recommend that you serve Party Wall Notices at least one or two months before you plan to start works.
My drawings are not complete, can I serve Party Wall Notices before they are ready?
Technically, The Act only stipulates that drawings should be provided with an Adjacent Excavation Notice. It states that Adjacent Excavation Notices shall be accompanied by plans and sections showing the site and depth of any excavation the Building Owner proposes to make, and its site if they propose to erect a building or structure.
However, in our experience, it is best to provide your neighbours with as much detail as possible. If you have drawings available, that show your proposals in a visual and tangible way, we often find that neighbours are more likely to consent to your Notice.
Additionally, detailed drawings will help your Party Wall surveyor to determine which aspects of the works are notifiable. If the drawings are not available, there is a risk that elements of notifiable works may be missed, potentially leading to delays to your project.
How many days does my neighbour have to respond to my Party Wall Notice?
Your neighbour will have 14 days to respond to your Party Wall Notice. However, if they do not respond, you will need to send a reminder Notice which will give them a further 10 days to respond.
If you still don’t hear back from them by then, you will need to appoint a surveyor to act on their behalf.
How long will the Award take if my neighbour dissents from my Party Wall Notice?
If your neighbour dissents and the dispute arises, assuming your neighbour has appointed their own surveyor the two surveyors will need to meet and arrange to record a Schedule of Condition on your neighbour’s property.
It is unlikely that the surveyors will be able to meet immediately as they are probably dealing with several other projects at the same time, and they will need to take your neighbour’s availability for access into account. This element of the Party Wall process could take around one or two weeks.
Once a Schedule of Condition has been prepared, a report will need to be written up and approved by your neighbour’s surveyor. Your surveyor will also prepare a draft Award for comment and approval by your neighbour’s surveyor. And, often, amendments will need to be made before the Award is signed and served upon both parties. You should allow around one to three weeks for the completion of the Award. However, in some complex disputes this can take longer.
I will start building soon and need to serve Party Wall Notices!
If you plan to start notifiable building works within the next year or so, we advise you to start planning your Party Wall Notices now, to maximise the likelihood of your neighbours agreeing to your works. This will help to reduce the cost of administering the Party Wall process.
How Harrison Clarke can help
Our experienced and helpful team of specialist Party Wall surveyors at Harrison Clarke will always make time to answer any other questions you may have, talk you through the likely process and guide you through the Party Wall process as smoothly and as painlessly as possible.
We also have a range of videos talking through various surveying services, including various aspects of Party Wall matters. You can access them via our website or our YouTube channel.
How you can contact Harrison Clarke
Call our friendly, expert and highly qualified surveyors on 023 8155 0051, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would welcome the opportunity to help with any queries or needs you may have.
At the time of writing, we have a total of 71 reviews across Trustpilot and Google. We are proud to say that they are all 5 star ratings across the board.