Party Wall Surveying Surrey:

All You Need To Know

We appreciate people carrying out building works in London have the requirements of The Party Wall Act thrust upon them. We also understand it can be a daunting process for those that have not experienced it before.

We are party wall surveyors in London, Surrey and we have recently worked to resolve party wall disputes in Fulham, Putney, Battersea and Clapham. We are pleased to provide a local and relevant  explanation of party walls and The Party Wall Act.

What is a party wall?

Party walls are usually walls built on the land of two owners. They separate buildings belonging to different owners and could also include garden walls built astride a boundary – known as party fence walls.

Party Walls in South West London are most commonly found separating the Victorian terraced housing.  The owners on both sides of the wall have rights over it, this is why The Party Wall Act exists.

What is a party wall act?

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a procedure to follow when building work is likely to affect neighbouring properties. The Act enables owners to carry out works to a party wall, whilst at the same time protecting the interests of anyone else who might be affected by that work. The Act is designed to avoid or minimise disputes by making sure property owners notify their neighbours in advance of certain proposed works.

The Act provides a mechanism for resolving disputes and enabling works to proceed. It also requires that, where the adjoining owner does not ‘agree’ in writing to the works, a surveyor or surveyors will determine the time and way in which those works are carried out

What is covered by the Act? ?

The Party Wall Act sets out certain items of work that can only be done after notifying the adjoining owners and either receiving written agreement of the neighbour or with a Party Wall Award prepared by a surveyor.
Notifiable works include (but are not limited to):

  • Cutting into a wall to take the bearing of a beam, for example for a loft conversion
  • Inserting a damp proof course, even if only to your own side of a party wall
  • Raising a party wall and, if necessary, cutting off any objects preventing this from happening
  • Demolishing and rebuilding a party wall
  • Underpinning a party wall or part of a party wall
  • Weathering the junction of adjoining walls or buildings by cutting a flashing into an adjoining building
  • Excavating foundations within three metres of a neighbour’s structure and lower than its foundations
  • Excavating foundations within six metres of a neighbour’s structure and below a line drawn down at 45° from the bottom of its foundations.
  • Notices are also required if it is proposed to build a new wall on the line of junction (boundary line). Our surveyors will be happy to confirm which work is notifiable and advice the notice period and type of notice required.
Work Not Covered By The Act?

The Party Wall Act is not intended to be applied to minor jobs that do not affect the structural integrity or loading of a party wall.

It is generally agreed that works such as fixing plug sockets, screwing in shelving or replastering walls are minor works and do not require a notice. If you are in London, and you have any doubt if your works require a notice to be served, please speak to our surveyors.

Notices

The workings of the Act are always instigated by the of issuing notices.

Written notice must be served on adjoining owners at least two months before starting any party wall works (one month for works to the line of junction or excavations). All adjoining owners must be served a notice and there are likely to be instances where there is more than one adjoining property and more than one owner of each. Works to a party wall, or those affecting a ceiling or floor, will also require a notice to adjoining owners living above or below.

It is essential to include the correct details on a notice as, if they are deemed invalid, then any subsequent actions are also invalid. Our surveyors are experienced at serving notices in London and Surrey. Please contact our Fulham office or our Thames Ditton office if you need any help.

Where written agreement is not given, the solution the Act provides is for both parties to appoint a surveyor. The surveyors then work together to agree the terms under which work may proceed. The surveyor(s) will review the plans, notices and structural details of the works and, after considering the impact of the works, will draw up an agreement which sets out the terms under which work can be carried out (the Award).

Responses To Notices

On receipt of a notice, an adjoining owner has three possible courses of action:

  1. To consent to the works going ahead as described. A consenting Adjoining Owner retains all rights under the Act including the right to appoint a surveyor later in the process if there is a dispute at that stage.
  2. To dissent and appoint a surveyor. The Act allows the Owners to concur in the appointment of a single ‘Agreed’ surveyor or appoint their own separate surveyor.
  3. Issue a counter notice to set out certain conditions required for the benefit of the Adjoining Owner. The Counter Notice should set out what additional or modified work the Adjoining Owner would like to be included for his benefit

In most cases, if the adjoining does not respond within 14 days then a deemed dispute is said to have occurred and the person carrying out the work must appoint a surveyor to act on the adjoining owners behalf.
If adjoining owners provide written consent to the works as set out within the notices, then there is no dispute to resolve and no further need for party wall surveyors. Assuming work proceeds as detailed within the notice and no damage is caused, then no further involvement is necessary.

Resolving Disputes

If adjoining owners dissent to the works then a dispute has occurred which must be resolved to allow works to proceed. It is worth reiterating that the Act is one of enablement, it is not there to prevent works from taking place and it offers a route to end disputes at every stage.

Where written agreement is not given, the solution the Act provides is for both parties to appoint a surveyor. The surveyors then work together to agree the terms under which work may proceed. The surveyor(s) will review the plans, notices and structural details of the works and, after considering the impact of the works, will draw up an agreement which sets out the terms under which work can be carried out (the Award).

The Party Wall Award

The award will usually record the condition of the relevant part of adjoining property before work begins (this is not a requirement under the Act but is considered good practice and is duly provided by most good surveyors). This survey of the adjoining properties is particularly important in London where there are often several properties in close proximity, and therefore a higher chance of works affecting neighbours.

The award may also grant access to both properties so that the works can be safely carried out and the surveyor/s can inspect work in progress.

Generally, the building owner who started the work pays for all expenses of work and the reasonable costs incurred by all parties as a result, this will include the surveyors fees for both Building Owner and Adjoining Owner.

We are party wall specialists

We are party wall specialists with over 15 years experience in the industry. We are based in Thames Ditton, Surrey and operate throughout Surrey and South West London.

We hope this has been useful. If you have any questions please contact us at: partywall@whiteandlloyd.co.uk

Send us a Message

Head Office

Devon House
11 High Street
Thames Ditton, Surrey
KT7 0SD
0208 191 7747

office@whiteandlloyd.com

London Office

Chester house
81-83 Fulham High Street
Fulham Green, Fulham
SW6 3JA
0203 637 2213