We have many years experience in dealing with party wall matters and would be able to provide you with further specific advice and/or act for you should the circumstances require.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 gives all property owners certain rights to undertake works to the party wall separating two buildings which may be repairs and/or works to improve their property e.g. cutting chases in a party wall for flashings, removal of chimney breasts, cutting pockets in the party wall for resting new beams (e.g. for a through lounge or loft conversion), raising a party wall, work to a party fence wall etc.
What is a party wall? well hopefully the two sketches below illustrate the two types of wall defined in the Act. However, an assumed party wall will require some assessment to ensure the correct status for the wall is decided.
The Act applies to the whole of England and Wales.
However, under the provisions of the Act, a person undertaking almost any work to a party wall (referred to as a Building Owner) is required by law to serve formal notice upon the owner or owners of the property on the other side of the wall. Additionally if new excavations are proposed for drainage or foundations within 6 metres of a neighbour's building then Notice may also be required (see right) although there is more likelihood of this if the work is within 3 metres when the new foundation need only be deeper than an existing foundation of a neighbour.
Under the terms of this Act, an 'owner' can be a freeholder or leaseholder and in some situations, it may therefore be necessary to serve notice on more than one 'owner' for a particular building for the same item(s) of work. If after service of the notices, the neighbour (termed the Adjoining Owner) does not consent then whilst they cannot prevent the other from using his/her rights it will be necessary to prepare a Party Wall Award for each of the Adjoining Owners who have not consented.
In the event that the neighbour does not consent then each owner must appoint a surveyor (a named person, NOT a company) to deal with the matter. However it is acceptable for a surveyor to act for both the owner undertaking the work (the 'Building Owner') and his neighbour(s) (the 'Adjoining Owners'). The Act makes specific provision for the appointment of an 'Agreed Surveyor'.
Subject to circumstances, if you and your neighbour(s) are prepared to appoint me as the 'Agreed surveyor' and all are co-operative I can complete the whole process and prepare the Award in a very short time. I have done it in three days! although I will indicate a likely timescale in each circumstance. This may be very helpful if you (the Building owner) have left dealing with this process until very close to your proposed start date.
You should note that whilst the Agreed surveyor or the two surveyors decide who pays the surveyors fees, it is common practice that all the surveyors' fees for preparing the Awards are paid by the owner undertaking the work unless for example the work is of repairs to a party wall for the benefit of both owners.
If relevant to any proposals that you have for your property, this 'hidden' cost should be taken into account.
Please note that following the procedures under the provisions of this Act is in addition to obtaining Building Regulation Approval, Planning Permission, Landlords Licences etc. as appropriate for your particular proposals.
The above information is a brief overview of some of the procedures to be followed and considerations required to comply with the Act. However, specific advice should be sought for each individual proposal.
Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.