Proposing building works?
Are you a Building Owner?
The building owner is the developer who owns the land where works are being proposed this will mean they are either a freeholder or a leaseholder of the land or building and proposing works that are notifiable under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Projects often associated with notifiable works within the jurisdiction of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 are:
New Build Projects
Chimney Breast/ Stack removal
If you are a building owner and you are proposing a project listed above it is highly likely that part of your proposals will fall within the jurisdiction of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 meaning that you have an obligation to serve valid party wall notice on your adjoining owners (s) advising of the elements of the project that are notifiable and giving 14 days for the adjoining owner to officially respond to the notice served. We would always recommend extending the adjoining owners the courtesy of speaking with them first prior to serving notice as this could well avoid a possible dissent to the notice served and the appointment of their own surveyor which would involve a second set of surveyor fees and a protracted process, this will of course also help neighbourly relations, although you are under no legal obligation to speak with them to advise of your works but to only serve notice in accordance with the Act.
The adjoining owner upon receipt of the notice served will have 14 days in which to respond and there are 3 possible responses:
They consent to the works, this allows the works to go ahead as proposed without the need for a Party Wall Award/ Agreement. We would recommend that a convenient Schedule of Condition survey visit be arranged to record the condition of the neighbour's property prior to works commencing.
They may dissent to the notices and concur to our appointment as the Agreed Surveyor, this does not prevent the proposed works but states a requirement for a Party Wall Award/Agreement to be prepared prior to works commencing. This response allows one surveyor to represent both owners interests thus keeping costs down expediting the process and avoiding any delays to your works. As the jointly appointed Agreed Surveyor, we have a duty under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 to act impartially to protect both owners interests.
They may dissent to the notices and opt to appoint their own Surveyor to speak with us, we will then act on your behalf and agree to a Party Wall Award/Agreement and Schedule of Condition with your neighbour's Surveyor, all as required.
We would always advise that a building owner serves notice in good time allowing for a notice period of either one or two months depending on the notifiable elements, also bear in mind that if an adjoining owner dissents to the notice served and appoints their own surveyor or the project involves complex works the process could become protracted. Serving notice in good time and not leaving the party wall process to the last minute will take the pressure off you as the building owner and likely make your management of an enthusiastic contractor who is waiting to start works a lot less stressful.
The notifiable elements of your works may not commence until a valid notice has been served and either a consent received to that notice or in the instance that the adjoining owner dissents until a party wall award has been agreed, signed off and served by the surveyor (s).
There is also the possibility that you may not receive a response to the notice served upon the adjoining owner once the 14 day notice period has lapsed, in this scenario the building owners surveyor would serve a ten-day notice on the adjoining owner advising that a dispute has deemed to have arisen and requesting that they appoint a surveyor within the next ten days or under Section 10(4)(b) of Party Wall etc. Act 1996 the building owners surveyor will appoint a surveyor to act on their behalf to avoid any further delay to the building owners works.
If you are planning a project the elements may well be notifiable under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, contact Stephen Hawes & Co. Party Wall Surveyors to have your architectural/structural plans reviewed by one of our experienced qualified Party Wall Surveyors to establish whether the proposals fall within the jurisdiction of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and if notice is required to be drafted and served. We do not charge for the serving of notice our fee is based on the manner of the official response so contact us now for free no-obligation advice and lets get your project moving.