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When do I need a Party Wall Surveyor or a Party Wall Agreement?
You need to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor if your neighbour does not consent to the Party Wall Notice that you serve on them, at which point there will be a dispute that requires surveyors to make an award, sometimes called an 'agreement'. Most people will however, ask a Party Wall Surveyor to serve the initial notice for them but you can do this part yourself.
Do I need to serve a party wall notice?
You need to serve a party wall notice if you are excavating close to an adjoining property or doing work to an existing party wall. You will also have to serve notice if you want to build on the boundary line. The 3 sections of the Act are as follows:
If you are proposing work under any of these sections then you are required to serve a party wall notice.
The sections relate to the sections of the Act. Whilst you can serve these initial notices yourself, if you make mistakes, you could find that the process later down the line is invalid and you may have to start again from scratch. If you are unsure what is required then you should use a party wall surveyor.
We can draft and serve the correct notices on your behalf for a nominal cost. This will prevent wasted time and possibly increased costs of the adjoining owner's surveyor dealing with an incorrect notice.
Do you need to include drawings when you serve a party wall notice?
Drawings are compulsory if you are serving a section 6 notice. However, any notice should be served with the drawings you have had prepared for the work so that the adjoining owner can see exactly what it is you intend to do and then make an informed decision.
What happens after a notice is served?
When you serve a notice on an adjoining owner, they should respond within the first 14 days. If they respond by consenting to the notice then you can commence works without further communication as long as they have also waived the statutory notice period of 1 or 2 months depending on the type of notice.
If they respond by dissenting to the works you have a dispute which requires both parties to appoint either an agreed surveyor or a surveyor each who will then go on to make a Party Wall Award.
What can you do when the adjoining owner ignores the notice?
If the adjoining owner ignores the notice, there is automatically a deemed dispute after 14 days. You should write to them again requesting that they appoint a surveyor within 10 days or you will appoint a surveyor for them. If they ignore this 10 day request, you can then appoint a surveyor on their behalf.
You should note that this has to be a separate surveyor than your own, in other words it cannot be one agreed surveyor.
Can you insist on using an agreed surveyor?
In the event of a dispute, it is down to the adjoining owner to agree to use an ‘agreed’ surveyor or decide that they want to appoint their own separate surveyor. On larger works it is normal practice for the owners to appoint a separate surveyor each as this ensures hopefully that the procedure is followed properly.
Who pays the party wall surveyor's fees?
The building owner proposing the work is, under normal circumstances, responsible for the reasonable costs of the adjoining owner which includes their surveyor and possibly an advising engineer appointed by them and any other reasonable costs. You may be able to agree a fixed fee with your own surveyor but probably not with the other surveyor.
What party wall surveyors actually do.
The agreed surveyor or two surveyors make an award which is a document that can only be appealed in the County Court within 14 days of being served on you. If it is not appealed, it is then binding on both owners.
The award will have copies of the drawings, a record of condition of the adjoining property in case there is a claim of damage and it also sets out the rights and obligations of the owners. It may also contain method statements for more technical work.
An award can determine the right, time and manner of executing the work and any other matters arising out of or incidental to the dispute including the costs of making the award.
If damage is caused during or after the work, a party wall surveyor will determine if the damage has resulted from the works and assess an amount of compensation if the owners cannot agree.
Surveyors also deal with Security for Expenses, if that has been requested and determine if and when it should be released back to the building owner or if it should be used for the reason it was requested.
Why should you choose partywall.expert?
You should choose me, Richard Johnson of partywall.expert, because you will receive an unrivalled service of pragmatic advice and help, throughout the process. You will be able to speak directly with me and if I am temporarily unavailable when you you call, I will always call you back as soon as possible to attend to your query. You can also read my 5* reviews on Google here
What you can do once an award has been made?
Once an award has been made and served on both owners you are free, subject to the statutory time limits on, to begin work. You must comply with all obligations in the award or else you will be in breach of the award and the adjoining owner can take further action in respect of that breach.
This can include legal action via the court which can include applying for an injunction and/or damages.
The award can be appealed by either owner at the County Court if they have reason. Appeals are expensive, so legal advice should be obtained first if you are considering that course of action. You only have 14 days to lodge an appeal.
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*Please note that this is only to assess if your work is governed by The Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
For more information about the different types of notices and how we can help you: