Party Walls: What options does an Adjoining Owner have?

Full construction waste debris bags, garbage bricks and material from demolished house

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 states that, should a Building Owner wish to carry out any modifications to their home that affects a shared wall, they need to follow a specific procedure to protect their interests and those of the affected Adjoining Owner.

In a best-case scenario, the Building Owner has taken the time to discuss their plans with their neighbours well in advance of the work being started. However, it’s not uncommon for Adjoining Owners to only become aware of the project when they receive a Party Wall Notice through the letterbox. In either case, it’s important that Adjoining Owners understand their options and how their response will affect the proceedings.

Option 1

If you are an Adjoining Owner that has received a Party Wall Notice, the first option you have is to provide full, written consent for the proposed works. This option is seldom recommended (if ever), as it leaves your home vulnerable to related damage that the Building Owner may not be considered responsible for.

Dissenting in order to have a Party Wall Award drawn up and have the current condition of your property documented is prudent, even if you have no further concerns about the work.

It is important to note that if you do not provide a formal response within 14 days, you are deemed to have dissented and therefore be in dispute.

Option 2

If you should choose to dissent, the next step is to decide whether you are comfortable sharing the same surveyor as your neighbour. This is an accepted and common practice, and the appointed surveyor is obliged to act impartially – you should not need to worry about being at a disadvantage by agreeing to a jointly-appointed surveyor.

However, it is important to select a surveyor that has experience in Party Wall matters. This should include Schedules of Condition and Party Wall Awards that address any potential issues with the project, such as security, noise, vibration, dust and temporary access.

Option 3

If you are not happy with the Building Owner’s choice of surveyor, you can provide dissent and instruct your own, separate surveyor. In normal circumstances, the Building Owner is responsible for all reasonable surveyor fees.

The two surveyors will then negotiate the terms of the Party Wall Award so that they are fair and reasonable for both parties. In this scenario, the two surveyors will jointly appoint a third surveyor, who will make a final decision in any circumstances where they cannot agree. However, this situation is uncommon.

At Squarepoint Chartered Surveyors, we can have extensive experience with Party Walls and will act on behalf of either party (or as a jointly-appointed surveyor) for renovations, construction and demolition, including basement extensions and loft conversions.

For more information about the services we provide for Building Owners and Adjoining Owners when it comes to Party Walls, please get in touch.

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