Can My Neighbour Stop My Loft Conversion From Happening?

Loft conversions and housework are enough of a hassle and headache themselves that any conflict with neighbours can worsen it immensely. Knowing exactly what your rights and responsibilities are before work starts is your best protection against conflict. Most of the time, your neighbours won’t be able to stop you from converting your loft, except in the case where it affects what’s known as a party wall. Read on to find out more.

When Can My Neighbour Stop Your Loft Conversion

In most cases where it doesn’t directly affect their building at all, your neighbour cannot stop your loft conversion. However, if your loft conversion work involves touching what’s known as a party wall, then your neighbour can indeed dissent the work.

A party wall is an interior or exterior wall or structure which is shared by two different buildings. If you live in a semi-detached or terraced house, then there will be party walls in some areas of your home. Any work being done to a wall like this needs to be consented to by both parties. So, to carry out any such work, you need to first obtain a Party Wall Agreement.

What Is A Party Wall Agreement

A Party Wall Agreement is a legal document that provides written consent from both parties to a construction work proposal on a shared wall or structure. It must be obtained before you go ahead with any such work; this includes minor jobs like repairing garden walls and larger projects if any construction work is needed to be performed on a party wall.  

If you’re planning to convert your loft, you’ll need to think about any adjacent walls which your work might affect. It might be that your building has party walls with another house, but that your loft doesn’t. In this case, you shouldn’t need an agreement. Any changes you are making to a party wall, however minor, will require an agreement.

The agreement itself is what you might call the finished product. Once you have the agreement in writing, you’re free to go ahead with the proposed work. There are specific channels you are required to follow to obtain one, so read on to find out how to secure a Party Wall Agreement.

If you live in London or its surrounding areas and you’re looking for a party wall surveyor, contact us about our detailed party wall packages.

How Do I Get A Party Wall Agreement?

Before you can get the Party Wall Agreement that you need to begin the work, you must first serve notice to the other party. Once you’ve issued notice to your neighbour, ideally, they will consent to the work right away and sign the agreement, granting you the Party Wall Award you need to begin work.

You are legally required to have their written consent, but it’s generally helpful to speak to your neighbour in person first of all, if possible. Having notice sprung on you without warning can be very jarring, and it might put your neighbour off giving you their consent. Understandably, they may feel more comfortable if they’re able to ask you any questions before giving consent. You’re much more likely to secure consent on the first try here and avoid the potential delays that come with even minor disputes.

How To Issue A Party Wall Notice

Before you can get the Party Wall Agreement that you need to begin the work, you must first serve notice to the other party. Once you’ve issued notice to your neighbour, ideally, they will consent to the work right away and sign the agreement, granting you the Party Wall Award you need to begin work.

You are legally required to have their written consent, but it’s generally helpful to speak to your neighbour in person first of all, if possible. Having notice sprung on you without warning can be very jarring, and it might put your neighbour off giving you their consent. Understandably, they may feel more comfortable if they’re able to ask you any questions before giving consent. You’re much more likely to secure consent on the first try here and avoid the potential delays that come with even minor disputes.

What To Do If Your Party Wall Notice Gets Rejected

Legally, of course, your neighbour is within their rights to dissent to the proposed work, though they will have to demonstrate a valid reason. From the date that you first issue notice, your neighbour has 14 days to give their consent. They can also, in that time, issue a counter-notice proposing specific alterations to work.

If an agreement can’t be reached, then at this point, you are legally required to hire a Party Wall surveyor (if you did not already hire one to issue notice) whose role at this point is essentially to settle the dispute. The surveyor becomes an impartial mediator and will set out the details of the work in an attempt to reach an agreement. While in most cases, both parties can agree to use the services of the same surveyor to settle the dispute, the other party is within their rights to appoint a second surveyor at your expense. In the case that these two surveyors still cannot agree, then a third surveyor is appointed to adjudicate the dispute.  

Loft conversions can be big jobs, but if you comply with all the terms of the Party Wall Act, then they cannot simply stop you from ever carrying out the work. In most cases, the surveyors can resolve the dispute and come to an equitable agreement for both parties. In the worst case, you may have to resolve the dispute in court.

London Office:

4th Floor, Silverstream House,

45 Fitzroy Street

Fitzrovia

London

W1T 6EB

0800 464 7131

Essex Office:

282 Leigh Road

Leigh on Sea

Essex

SS9 1BW

0800 464 7131