How the Party Wall Act works in practise. 

I receive weekly calls from owners who are still unsure of the procedures of the Party Wall Act and what to do first. The following is a simple breakdown of how it works. 
The Party Wall Act provides a statutory framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 came into force throughout England and Wales on 1 July 1997 and applies to anyone who desires to carry out work described in the Act.  
A Government explanatory booklet can be downloaded here
You firstly need to decide if your works are specified by the Party Wall Act. You do this by either reading what the Act states yourself or taking advice from preferably a 
party wall surveyor. 
Once you establish that your work comes under the Act, then you should serve notice on the adjoining owner/s. 
A section 1(2) & section 6 notice must be served at least 1 month prior to commencing work or 2 months for work under section 2. 
The adjoining owner/s then have 14 days to consent to the section 2 and/or 6 notice. Section 1(2) also requires consent (building a party wall/party fence wall on the line of junction). 
If they do consent, you can commence work if the adjoining owners also waive the remainder of the notice period (1 or 2 months). 
If they do not consent within 14 days or they simply do not respond there is a 'deemed' dispute (there is no deemed dispute under section 1(5)- building a wall wholly on your own land; rather the adjoining owner would have to raise an actual dispute about the proposed work). 
Both parties must then appoint a surveyor within 10 days following the end of the 14 day notice period. 
If the the adjoining owner does not appoint a surveyor within the 10 day period following the 14 day notice period, either you or your surveyor acting for you, can appoint a surveyor for the adjoining owner. 
The surveyor that you appoint must be a different surveyor than your own. You cannot use an 'agreed' surveyor if the adjoining owner has not agreed to that. 
If however, the adjoining owner does respond within the 14 day notice period but decides not to consent i.e. dissents, they must appoint a surveyor. In this instance they can agree with you to use an 'agreed' surveyor who will act for both parties or they can appoint a separate surveyor to act for them independently. 
Whether there is an agreed surveyor or a surveyor each, the building owner proposing the work is generally responsible for costs of both surveyors. 
The surveyor/s will then look at your proposed work and confirm that you have a right under the Party wall Act to carry it out, the time and manner of executing the work and any other matter arising out of or incidental to the work. 
The surveyor/s will then record the process in an 'award'. An award includes the parties names, the date when notice was served, the appointed surveyors names, the rights under the Act to do the work, any conditions and general obligations. 
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