Getting an extension built can be both a hugely exciting and an incredibly daunting task. It’s easy to imagine having the extra space once it’s done, and it’s a lot less appealing thinking about all the work that will go into making it happen. You might be worrying about whether any of your neighbours could object on legal grounds to your extension and prevent you from building it.
In most cases, your neighbour can’t stop your extension from happening. There is a party wall involved; however, they can reject, so read on to find out how to tackle party wall agreements.
The only circumstance in which your neighbour could reasonably be able to stop or at least delay the construction of your planned extension is in the event that the building work would affect a party wall. In any case, where the extension does not involve a party wall or your neighbour’s property in any way, they will not be able to stop your extension.
A party wall is an interior or exterior wall or structure which is shared by two different buildings. Semi-detached houses, for example, will have some form of a party wall. In the case of extensions, you are most likely to fall under the jurisdiction of the Party Wall Act as far as the foundations go. Section 6 of the Party Wall Agreement covers the building or modifying of foundations within 3 metres of a neighbouring property. So, if your extension plans affect a shared wall or will involve new foundations less than 3 metres from your neighbour’s property, you’re going to need to secure a Party Wall Agreement.
Need more information about a Party Wall Agreement? We recommend you contact us. Here, you’ll be met with a professional party wall surveyor who can tell you the ins and outs of the legal rules.
Anytime you need to carry out building work on your house that affects a wall or structure shared with a neighbouring property, you’ll need to secure a Party Wall Agreement before you can legally proceed. This is a legal document providing the written consent of both or all parties to proposed building work on a shared wall or structure. Often, these agreements make up a whole, small job (such as repairing a shared garden wall), or they make up a small part of a larger project like an extension.
If you’re planning to build an extension, you’ll need to think carefully both about where it will sit on your property relative to your neighbours and if it will be built directly onto any shared wall. Any work which needs to be for the extension that affects a party wall in any way, however small, will need a legal Party Wall Agreement.
There are a couple of ways to handle securing the Party Wall Agreement. Before you can get the agreement, you will need to serve notice to the affected parties.
Issuing the notice is more complex than you might think, and so, in general, it is best to hire a surveyor to issue the notice on your behalf. If you aren’t legally minded, understanding the jargon of legislation can be difficult at the best of times, let alone when you’re also trying to arrange the construction of an extension. If you miss or forget anything that needs to be included, you could delay the building of the extension.
There are a few things that will need to happen in terms of serving a notice. Suppose you hire a surveyor to do so on your behalf. In that case, they will assess the proposed work, then write up all the paperwork for securing the actual agreement, and then serve notice to your neighbour (again, preferably after you have already discussed it with them in person or over the phone).
In the case of extensions, you are just as likely to run into Party Wall troubles with foundations as actual walls. It’s best to have the surveyor include architectural drawings with the notice to provide full peace of mind to your neighbour.
If you comply with all the Party Wall Act and approach your neighbour before issuing a notice, you shouldn’t have much trouble securing the agreement. However, your neighbour can, of course, dissent the notice, with reasonable grounds. Your notice will be dated from the day you post or serve it, and 14 days from that date is the deadline for them to respond.
If they don’t respond, the notice is considered dissent. If both parties can’t reach an agreement, you are legally required to hire a Party Wall surveyor who must attempt to settle the dispute. If you have already hired one, you can, of course, use them for this job too. Your neighbour, hopefully, will agree to use the same surveyor, but they are within their rights to hire another at your expense. If these two surveyors still cannot come to an agreement, a third one must be hired to adjudicate the dispute and come to an agreement.
Ultimately, if your neighbour can’t demonstrate reasonable grounds for objecting, you will eventually get your extension built. They are unlikely to be able to stop you from outright building it. But they could well present major roadblocks if the situation is not handled carefully, so keep everything I’ve said in mind, and you should have no trouble.
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