On this page you will find guidance on how to comply with The Party Wall etc. Act 1996. The information is a step by step guide of the process that should be followed when doing any construction near buildings or land owned by someone else.
In all circumstances the first action should be to ascertain whether the works fall under The Act and if they do, serving notice.
Firstly you should review the project drawings and determine whether you need to serve notice on your neighbours. You can find out what sorts of work require notice by reading our overview of The Party Wall etc Act.
Once you have determined that your works require notices to be sent, you should prepare you notices and serve them on your neighbours.
You can have a surveyor prepare your notices for you, or you can serve them yourself. We have a free party wall notice generator that you can use to help you.
It is important your notices comply so if you are unsure you should speak to a surveyor.
Now that you have served your notices your neighbour has 14 days to respond.
If your neighbour consents (in writing) then you have discharged your obligation to them under The Act and the process ends here.
If your neighbour dissents then you both need to appoint a surveyor, or share a single surveyor, who will then prepare a party wall award.
If your neighbour does not respond within 14 days they automatically dissent and an award needs to be prepared.
If your neighbour refuses to appoint a surveyor you should send them a letter stating that they have 10 days to appoint a surveyor otherwise you are able to appoint one to act for them.
The appointed surveyor, or surveyors, should then undertake a schedule of condition of the adjoining owner’s property which will act as a record of the neighbour’s property before the works start in the event of any damage ocurring.
Following the schedule of condition, the appointed surveyor, or surveyors, will agree a Party Wall Award (Agreement) which will set out the matters that are in dispute.
It is not uncommon for surveyors to request additional information, including drawings, at this point.
You should allow at least 4 weeks for the award to be prepared. Ideally longer.
Once the surveyors have agreed the party wall award, they will then sign them and serve them on both owners.
Once the signed awards have been received, and subject to any notice periods, the works covered in the notices can start immediately.
After the award has been served, both parties have 14 days to appeal it in the County Court if they disagree with it.
After 14 days the period for appeal has ended and the award is legally binding.
After the works, the surveyors will typically visit to ensure that there has been no damage to the adjoining property.
If damage has occurred, the surveyors will prepare a report covering the works, and the parties can then either agree to settle the matter between themselves, or by having the surveyors prepare a further award stipulating any compensation that is due.
Making good is usually either done by the contractor involved in the project, or by another contractor elected by the neighbour and paid for by the building owner, or by payment in lieu.
The above timeline is of course a simplified version of the process, and there is often much back and forth between the parties and their appointed surveyors.
It is important to ensure that you leave adequate time for party wall matters to be resolved prior to your proposed works starting. Therefore the earlier you can serve notice on your neighbour, the better.
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