So, you have decided to renovate your home, or perhaps build a new extension, and all the associated costs of your project can be eyewatering.
It is tempting to look for ways to reduce your costs and you may feel that preparing and serving your own Party Wall Notices is one way you can do that.
However, we would strongly advise that you do not prepare your own Party Wall Notices.
Not using a trained professional, and deciding instead to do this yourself, could incur avoidable extra costs and cause delays to your building project.
It is because of our extensive experience, and seeing what some of our clients have gone through, that we want to highlight the importance of having your Party Wall Notices prepared professionally by a specialist party wall surveyor.
What is a Party Wall Notice?
A Party Wall Notice is a document that is served on relevant adjoining building owners – usually your neighbours – describing the proposed notifiable works, their timings, and associated drawings where they are relevant.
There are three kinds of Party Wall Notices: a Line of Junction Notice; a Party Structure Notice; and an Adjacent Excavation and Construction Notice.
What is a valid Line of Junction Notice?
Section 1 (2) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 states that any building owner who intends to build a new party wall or party fence wall on the Line of Junction must serve a notice on the adjoining owner at least one month before starting any work.
Accuracy is essential with Line of Junction notices, particularly when it comes to describing the notifiable elements of work.
What is a valid Party Structure Notice?
Section 3 (1) of the Act states that any building owner who intends to carry out any of the work that they are entitled to exercise under Section Two of the Act can only do so if they first serve notices on adjoining owners.
With a Party Structure Notice, the Act is far more specific about what details will need to be included for the notice to be valid.
These details include the building owner’s name and address, the nature and particulars of the proposed work, the start date for the proposed works and the notice must be served at least two months before the start date of the proposed works.
The Act requires that far more information should be provided for Party Structure Notices, than for Line of Junction Notices and Adjacent Excavation and Construction Notices.
What is a valid Adjacent Excavation Notice?
Section 6 of the Act states that a building owner who intends to carry out excavation within three or six metres of an adjoining structure or building, and where that excavation will be of a greater depth than the adjoining owner’s foundations, must serve notice on the adjoining owner at least one month before any work starts.
Adjacent Excavation Notices must also be accompanied by plans and sections showing the site and depth of any excavation the building owner proposes to make, and if they propose to erect a building or structure on the site.
Although the Act does not specify that it is a requirement for Line of Junction or Adjacent Excavation Notices to include the building owner’s name and address, we highly recommend that you include this information. Doing so will help to provide clarity and prevent confusion from adjoining owners, which will help to minimise the likelihood of disputes.
Who can serve Party Wall Notices?
The obligation to serve Party Wall Notices lies solely with the building owner. However, as a building owner you can authorise a party wall surveyor to prepare and serve notices on your behalf.
Why are the free, downloadable Party Wall Notice templates not always a good idea?
We can all generally find anything we search for on the internet, in seconds, including several downloadable Party Wall Notice templates that are freely available for you to use. So, you may wonder why you need to pay a surveyor to do this for you.
When we are appointed to act as a party wall surveyor, we are often given a Party Wall Notice that has been prepared by a building owner using a free template they have downloaded from the internet.
In these instances, the first thing we do is carefully review the content to determine whether the notices are valid and, in most cases, they are not. This can lead to notices needing to be reissued which means incurring further costs, as well as delays to your project.
What happens if my notices are deemed invalid?
Firstly, invalid Party Wall Notices can result in delays to your project.
For example, you may end up in a scenario where you serve notice on your neighbour, which they dissent to and appoint their own surveyor, who then reviews the notices and deems them invalid.
You will then be in a position where you will need to revise your notices and re-serve them, making sure that they will be valid this time. This would effectively reset the clock, meaning that you are no further through the party wall process than when you started.
When there are errors in Party Wall Notices or they are not served correctly in accordance with the Act, this will result in additional costs for the building owner. If the party wall process proceeds with invalid notices, it can result in the entire agreement being invalid, leaving you with little to no protection under the Act.
Unless you fully understand what notices you need to serve and which aspects of your proposed works are notifiable, we highly recommend that you ask an experienced party wall surveyor to prepare your notices for you.
We have a range of videos talking through various surveying services, including Party Wall Notices. You can access them via our website or our YouTube channel. If your query isn’t covered in our videos and blogs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We would be more than happy to help you.
How you can contact Harrison Clarke
Call our friendly, expert and highly qualified surveyors on 023 8155 0051, or email us at email@example.com. We would welcome the opportunity to help with any queries or needs you may have.
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