When undertaking work along the boundary line of your property, whether this be for a new building, an extension, or an existing wall, the Party Wall Act of 1996 may be applicable.
The Party Wall Act requires those undertaking the works, the building owner, to notify adjoining owners should they wish to excavate along or near a boundary, or expose/cut into a separating wall between two properties. It provides a method for resolving disputes and protecting both sides from undue disturbance and damage.
The Act is a process that must be followed, and failure to do so can result in civil proceedings.
Elvet Chartered Surveyors can assist in ensuring that the process is followed, thanks to our surveyor's experience of doing so with private clients, builders and large public organisations for over 10 years.
For building owners, we can advise on whether your project would require the Act, help to serve the necessary notices, agree the condition schedule and Party Wall Award, and resolve any issues that may occur.
Should you find yourself served with a notice as an adjoining owner, we can offer advice as to the validity of the notices, review the proposals to ensure minimal disruption, assist in negotiation of the Party Wall Awards, and monitor the progress to ensure the Award is kept too.
|My neighbour is building, but hasn't informed me about any work taking place. What can I do?|
|Any construction or renovation works that affect the party wall or the adjoining property must have consent from the adjoining owner. If the owner carrying out the works has not sought consent, they are acting outside of the law and action will need to be taken to stop them. To do this, the adjoining owner will need to apply for an injunction from the County Court. If the judge finds that the owner carrying out the works is not carrying out illegal works, then the adjoining owner will be liable for any costs incurred by the injunction. It is advised to take legal advice before applying for an injunction.|
|I have just found out that I need to serve notice on an adjoining owner but my construction has already started, should I stop?|
|Yes. If the owner carrying out the work has not gained consent from the affected owners, then they could be acting outside of the law and therefore may be penalised for it. At this point, works should be suspended until a notice for the remaining works has been served.|
|Do I have to allow my neighbour's contractors on to my property?|
|The Party Wall Act requires the affected owner's to grant access to their land if the construction works cannot be completed in any other way and the contractors have provided you with the required notice. This notice will usually be around 14 days, unless in an emergency (e.g. a burst pipe), and the notice period will be reduced accordingly. If there is an alternative way to carry out the works other than gaining access to the adjoining neighbours land, then it should be undertaken in that alternative way even if it means the works are more expensive.|
|What happens if the adjoining owner does not reply to the notice within 14 days?|
|If there is no reply to the notice within 14 days, then a dispute is deemed to have been risen and the adjoining neighbour must appoint a surveyor. If 10 days after this the adjoining neighbour has failed to respond, then the owner wishing to carry out the works can appoint a surveyor on the adjoining neighbour's behalf.|