How To Serve A Party Wall Notice

One of the big benefits of owning your own property is that you can freely make alterations to it as you wish.

Yes, you may have to consult with your local authority for certain modifications if they fall within the criteria for doing so, but generally speaking there are lots of adaptations you can make to your home that do not require planning permission.

However, if you are going to make alterations to part of your property that is close to or on a wall shared with another person, this is where the Party Wall Act 1996 comes into play.

Basically, this act changes up the way that you do things, by requiring you to have a different set of rules and regulations for negotiating with your neighbour.

In the instances where you are want to carry out operations close to or on the party wall then you will need to serve a party wall notice.

This is a very important document which will provide due notice to neighbours that you intend to make modifications, so let’s take a look at how you actually serve one.

What is a Party Wall Notice?

Okay, let’s take a look at basic background information first. What is a party wall notice?

So, if you share a wall with a neighbour, that wall is designated as a party wall.

It means that you both have equal ownership of it and therefore you both get to decide what happens to it.

Ultimately, this means that you can’t just go around making modifications to the party wall without the consent of the neighbouring owner.

It also means that if you are going to carry out building operations on or close to a shared party wall then you will need to serve a party wall notice on your neighbour and they will either have to consent to the works, or if they do not – you will need to enter into a Party Wall Agreement with them.

A Party Wall notice is a document which outlines exactly what you intend to do, by providing clear instructions on the alterations you’re going to make, Architect drawings where necessary, and formal notice that you intend to do exactly what you want.

How To Serve A Party Wall Notice

Alright, let’s take a look at exactly what you need to do in order to serve the party wall notice to your neighbouring owner.

You have two options available to you. The first option, and the easiest one by far, is to hire a party wall surveyor to put together the documents and serve the notice for you.

Naturally, this will ensure that everything is done correctly, but at the same time, it can cost you money, because a party wall surveyor will need to charge you for their time in doing so.

On the plus side, some surveyors (such as ourselves) will serve notices on your behalf for a low fixed fee.  We charge £25.00 per neighbour to carry out land registry searches and serve all apropriate notices and documentation to your neighbour.

The other option, and the one that people go for quite frequently, is that you can do things for yourself.

This does have its own set of challenges attached to it, of course. It will be up to you to ensure you have prepared all relevant notices for each of the works notifiable under the act.

You will need to carry out land registry checks to ensure you have served notice on the registered owner(s) of the property – The Party Wall Act does not work if assumptions are made and notices are served on the wrong person.

This simple oversight could have very costly effects further down the line if an owner feels that notifiable works are being carried out without their consent and they issue an injunction.

There are a couple of things to remember if you go for this particular option.

Firstly, familiarise yourself with the different section notices and decide which ones you will need to serve on your neighbour.

Types Of Notices - Party Structure Notice (Section 3)

A Party Structure Notice is served under section 3 of the Party Wall Act.

A Party structure notice is required if you are carrying out works directly on the party wall itself and they are served under section 3 of the Act.

A Party Structure Notice covers works detailed in section 2 (2) sub sections (a) to (n)

Because this type of notice if for works carried out on the Party Wall itself, there is a longer notice period required for this type of notice.

A Party Structure Notice will need to be issued 2 months prior to works starting whereas all other notices require just 1 months notice.

Common building works carried out under a Party Structure notice would be cutting holes into the Party wall to install steel beams for a loft conversion for instance.

Other types of work that fall under a section 2 notice would be chimney removals, or if you intend to extend, or demolish all or part of a party wall or fence.

So what information needs to go on a Party Structure Notice?

Your notice must include the full name(s) and address(es) of ALL registered owners.  We strongly advise that you carry out a land registry check to ensure you have served notice on the actual owner of the neighbouring property.

Your section 2 notice will also need to detail the type of work you are proposing to carry out together with the date in which you want to begin the building works.

Types Of Notices - Notice Of Adjacent Excavation (Section 6)

Notices of Adjacent Excavation are concerned with works notifiable under section 6 of the Act.  Notice of adjacent excavation is required if you are planning on excavating (for foundations for an extension for example) within 3m of your neighbours property.

There is also a 6 metre notice however this is geared more toward basement conversions as it is extremely unlikely to be required for a domestic extension – even when your using piled foundations.

Therefore for this Article we will concentrate on the 3m notice as this is the most common Adjacent Excavation notice served.

So what information needs to go on a Party Structure Notice?

Your notice must include the full name(s) and address(es) of ALL registered owners.  We strongly advise that you carry out a land registry check to ensure you have served notice on the actual owner of the neighbouring property.

Your section 6 notice will also need to detail the type of work you are proposing to carry out together with the date in which you want to begin the building works.

This type of notice also requires Architect plans and and Cross Sectional detail to show the extent of the foundation proposed and its correlation with your neighbour property.

The notice must contain the same information as a Party Structure Notice but also be accompanied by plans and sections showing the extent of the proposed excavation.

Types Of Notices - Line Of Junction (Section 1)

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.

What Options Does My Neighbour Have?

The options given to your adjoining owner are generally as follows:

  1.             Consent To The Works (No Further Action Required)
  2.             Consent To The Works Subject To A Schedule of Condition Being Carried Out
  3.             Dissent To The Works but happy to use same surveyor as you
  4.             Dissent To The Works and wish to appoint their own surveyor

So now we’ve seen the options open to your neighbour, lets see what each one actually means.

Consent To The Works (No Further Action Required)

If your neighbour has ticked this box then this is a great outcome.  It means that you have no need to involve party wall surveyors and you can begin your build.

Consent To The Works Subject To A Schedule Of Condition Being Carried Out

Of all the options, this is probably the most common box ticked and in all honesty it is still a very good outcome even if it does mean you will need to pay for a schedule of condition report.

Basically, your neighbour is happy for works to go ahead however they want the security of having a schedule of condition carried out prior to building works taking place.

What this involves is us or your chosen party wall surveyor attending your neighbours property and carrying and a written and photographic schedule of their property.

In the event that damages are incurred you can simply cross reference the damage against the schedule photos to ascertain if damage was there prior to works being undertaken.

This is a good option for all parties as it also protects you/your contractor from any fraudulent claims for damages that were present before building works took place.

Dissent To The Works But Happy To Use Same Surveyor As You

So they have dissented however they have agreed to use the same surveyor as you.  This allows you to keep your costs down.  Party Wall awards are often faster in general when using an agreed surveyor

Dissent To The Works And Wish To Appoint Their Own Surveyor

This is perhaps the longest and costliest option that your neighbour could have chosen.  If you have chosen wisely and chosen your surveyor on a fixed fee basis then thankfully you can keep these costs under control however the bill from our neighbours Party Wall

Surveyor may increase your overall costs above the three options above.

What Happens If My Neighbour Just Ignores My Notices?

Your neighbour is then given 14 days in which to respond.  If after 14 days they have not responded then a dissent is automatically triggered under the act.

This is to prevent your neighbour from unnecessarily delay or trying to prevent your build altogether by refusing to respond.

Once the 14 days have passed, your neighbour will need to be issued with a 10 day notice.  This will advise them that they are now in dispute and that they have 10 days to advise us of their surveyor.

If after 10 days your neighbour still refuses to cooperate then it is up to you to appoint a surveyor on their behalf and you or your surveyor will correspond with them instead.

Even if your neighbour refuses to communicate with the surveyor you have appointed the surveyor will do their best to protect the interests of your neighbour, carry out inspections as best as they can and the party wall award will be agreed.

By following this protocol, should your neighbour try to stop your works by means of an injunction you will be able to demonstrate that you/the two surveyors all acted in the best interests of your neighbour and took every reasonable step to keep this from entering the courts.

It would then be likely that the request for an injunction will be rejected.


Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, hiring a party wall surveyor to prepare and serve your notice(s) is not expensive and could save you in the event that your neighbour dissents and appoints a surveyors whos first job may be to withdraw and re-issue valid notices due to an error.

When you consider Party Wall Surveyors work to a billable hourly rate of £150 per hour as an industry average, even a minor error could be a costly one.

We can carry out the land registry searches, prepare and serve all required notices to any neighbours affected by the works for just £25.00 Per Neighbour.

If you do choose to prepare and serve your own notice(s), read through our article carefully to familiarise yourself with which notices need to be served on each neighbour.

Keep in mind that a party wall notice is an important document, take your time and ensure correct notices are served for each element of the build.

Ultimately, a party wall notice is something that you will need to serve on your neighbours in order to carry out your home improvement project.

It’s definitely not easy to do, but it is something that you can do if you take the time to explore all of the different options that are available.

The party wall process can take some time to resolve so the final thing we would suggest is allow plenty of time.

The notice period for a Party Structure notice is 2 months, or 1 month for all other notices so its best not to leave serving notices on your neighbours as a last minute thing.

By doing this you are providing the neighbouring owner plenty of time to review the notice, and also to dispute the alterations where they feel necessary, something which legally you have to allow them time to do.

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