Can My Neighbour Stop Me Putting Up Scaffolding?

Scaffolding is a necessary part of a lot of building work, because it allows people access to the more difficult locations on your property in order to make repairs, alterations, and improvements.

Scaffolding is usually not an issue, and it’s something that you can have going on on your property so long as it is safe. However, if your scaffolding would impact the walls which are shared with both you and your neighbours, this triggers something called the Party Wall Act 1996.

Basically, the Party Wall Act was designed to make sure that the disputes surrounding the potential damage and changes to the wall owned by two different parties could be resolved quickly and efficiently, so let’s see if it will impact your scaffolding in a negative way.

Typically, You're Fine

Usually, you’ll be pleased to know that you’re going to be absolutely fine when it comes to the introduction of scaffolding onto your property.

If the scaffolding is going to be put up and used in an area that is well within the realms of your property, then you don’t have to answer to anyone, or ask anybody for permission.

You can go ahead and do whatever you need to do to make the modifications to your property, but it is important to make sure that you are being responsible for all health and safety cautions.

However, the problems emerge when you are working with scaffolding that is being put up to facilitate building works that require notices to be served under the Party Wall Act such as an Extension or a Loft Conversion.

In these circumstances then although the scaffold itself is not notifiable under the Act your neighbour or their surveyor could request certain caveats specifically relating to the scaffold.

These caveats generally do not directly influence or affect the party wall award, but they are added within it to ensure your contractor abides by them.

The most common caveat we come across is the request to add Monoflex sheeting to the scaffolding adjacent to the boundary to ensure no dust or debris can fall into the neighbouring property.

This is almost always the first thing requested when the neighbouring property has a glazed conservatory style roof.

Another caveat that is often overlooked may be a surprise to some and that is satellite television.

Time and time again, we see the same thing – Scaffold goes up and the neighbour can no longer watch their favorite television programs.

Simply agreeing to pay the costs for a satellite television engineer to relocate the satellite receiver to another location on your neighbours property in the event of loss of signal can alleviate any potential nuissance to your neighbour.

In the event that there is nowhere else suitable for the satellite receiver to be installed then simply having the engineer fix it to the scaffold is a temporary fix however you will need to also pay for the engineers visit at the end of the project to reattach the receiver once the scaffolding is taken down.

Assuming therefore you are erecting scaffold to carry out building works that will be notifiable under the Party Wall Act, then the first thing you will need to do is serve appropriate notices on to your adjoining owners. 

You can either choose to do this yourself or you can ask a Party Wall Surveyors to do this for you. 

If you are not entirely sure which notices you need to serve then we would always advise you to have this handled professionally.

This is mainly because if your neighbour does decide to dissent and it is then discovered that incorrect notices were issued there will be more work for the Party Wall surveyor(s) to do in order to rectify the mistake.

Without wishing to plug our services in an article written specifically to offer advice to homeowners, when you consider our fee of just £25.00 per neighbour to serve all your relevant Party Wall notices, then why wouldn’t you remove the doubt and potential costs and headache down the line and have them issued professionally from the start?

So, What Is A Party Wall Notice?

Okay, so what actually is party wall notice? Well, a party wall notice is a written document which you provide to your neighbour which informs them that you intend to carry out building works that are notifiable under the Party Wall Act.

This is a legally required part of the planning and building process for all manner of extensions and adaptations to your home.

The party wall notice is something that you have to deliver to your neighbour within one or two months prior to the work that you wish to undertake. 

The notice period required depends solely on which type of notice(s) need to be served.

Now, understandably, we know this can be quite a big thing for people to have to deal with. Serving notice to your neighbour sounds quite  a large and intimidating thing to do, but the notices are actually quite easy to understand, and although they are legal documents and therfore contain legal jargon they are not as intimidating as you may think.

Once you have served notice to your neighbours, they can choose to either consent to the works or dissent..

If they dissent, they can directly challenge your attempts to make alterations, or they can simply agree and let you get on with it.

In the event that they have a dispute, it triggers a process where Party Wall Surveyor(s) will need to be appointed to correctly manage and award a party wall agreement.

Peacekeeping 101

Ultimately, if you are going to find the best and most sensible options when it comes to party wall notices, it can be wise to engage in a bit of peace keeping.

Invite your neighbours over for a cup of tea and explain that you want to talk to them about making some alterations to the party wall.

Explain that the scaffolding will be installed, try to walk them to the process, tell them what will happen, reassure them that there will be no risk to the party wall, and that you will protect it where necessary, and generally help them to understand what you want to do.

By doing this, you may help to avoid a dispute entirely.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, your neighbours cannot stop you from putting up scaffolding, but it is important to remember that if the scaffodling is associated with work notifiable under the Party Wall Act then they can challenge the process.

Obviously, this will immediately hold up whatever plans you have in mind, so you do need to make sure that you serve notice properly and in good time.

Provided you follow our recommendations and are being considerate to their needs then this should be a very simple process to navigate through.

The primary concern for a lot of people is that there will be damage to the party wall.

If you can make sure that this doesn’t happen, by for instance installing Monoflex sheeting around the scaffolding adjacent to their property, then you will help to mitigate the risk of a dispute.

Even by simply being prepared to talk your plans through with them, and making sure they understand exactly what’s going to happen will work wonders for a speedy resolution.

If you can do this, you will find it becomes a lot easier to negotiate with your neighbours. At the end of the day, open communication will be your best friend.

What Happens Next?

In practice, on conclusion of the award the Adjoining Owners Surveyor will propose a rate for the hour together with a total fee for their role in agreeing an award.

This hourly rate and final bill will be either accepted or rejected by your own surveyor, who will check the timesheet of the Adjoining Owners Surveyor to determine if the fee is accurate and reasonable.

The timesheet for the Adjoining Owners Surveyor will be influenced by a variety of different things, like for example checking the designs, speaking with experts, assessing the planned works, authenticating the works, and a selection of other tasks.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the costs for a party wall surveyor will be influenced by many factors. Typically, these types of individuals will work on an hourly fee, which will then be disputed or contested by the Building Owners surveyor as is necessary.

A third-party can and will arbitrate and move the process forward if necessary, but, as they will have their own costs, and bearing in mind the majority of third surveyors regularly selected and agreed on Party Wall disputes command the highest level of respect in their sector it is to be expected that their rates will reflect this and £300.00 per hour is not uncommon.

It is advantageous therefore to use the third surveyor as little as possible for a small domestic extension such as a House Extension or Loft Conversion.

With all of this being said, you should do your homework when selecting a Party Wall Surveyor, especially if you are the building owner.

Check their levels of experience, check their credentials and make an informed decision.

You are investing a significant amount of money to extend your home.  Therefore look upon the party wall surveyor as simply being an additional service along with planning and building control to ensure your build is carried out efficiently with no neighbourly disputes.

A party wall surveyors costs are a small price to pay when you compare it with the price of falling out with your closest neighbours over something that could have been so easily avoided if the correct procedures had of been followed.

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