You should have received a Party Wall Notice from your neighbour outlining the elements of their plans that relate to the boundary between your two properties.
You should receive this at least 8 weeks before they plan to start the project. If the works involve adjacent excavations only, then at least 4 weeks notice should be given.
If you want more details about the project you can often access these on your local planning department website.
Regardless of how well you get on with your neighbours, there is a potential risk of damage to your property as a result of the works carried out by a builder that you have no relationship with.
It’s best to have an objective, independent and experienced building professional ensure that your safety, security, privacy and continued enjoyment of your property is considered throughout the project.
You have the right to appoint your own specialist Party Wall Surveyor to look after your interests. In the majority of cases you can also expect that your neighbour will cover the surveyor's cost as part of their project.
Naturally, your level of concern and conditions of consent will be proportionate to the complexity of the project.
If it is a case of replacing lead flashing and re-pointing the chimney then it’s a fairly simple and quick project.
If it is more structural (such as digging new foundations or inserting a steel beams into a shared wall), then you may wish to be clear about your expectations regarding such things as the scope of the works as well as conditions relating to noise, security, timescales, access via your property and other safeguards such as compensation in the event of damage.
Under the terms of the Act you will either consent to the works without conditions or you will want to request certain conditions.
If you are requesting certain conditions, the Act refers to this as a “dispute” (even if it’s not really a dispute and more of a negotiation).
It’s best to engage a party wall specialist to help you reach that agreement which is known as an “Award”. This is a legally binding document that you can rely on if things go wrong.
The maxim ‘netter safe than sorry’ is the reason you should take this seriously because if things do go wrong you can be certain there will be a lot of finger pointing.
In most cases, the Building Owner will need to pay the cost of our services so there needs to be a common sense approach to what is required for this project. And if possible it makes sense to use a party wall specialist that you can both be happy with as this manages the costs.
If the project is a very simple one such as replacing lead flashing and re-pointing the chimney then you may want to simply consent.
If you are unsure about the complexity and want peace of mind, then give us a call.
B: Consent with Conditions (Private agreement)
If the project is fairly simple but you would like one or two expectations upheld then you might consider written consent with some pre-agreed conditions such as making good any damage to your property and / or a pre-works condition survey by a party wall expert at your neighbour’s expense.
Again, if you are unsure about the complexity of the planned works and want peace of mind, then give us a call.
C: Consent with a formal Award
If you’re going to list 2 or more conditions then we recommend a formal Award be negotiated and drawn up.
These conditions might include the scope of the works as well as conditions relating to noise, security, timescales, access via your property and other safeguards such as compensation in the event of damage or monies on account as security in the event of damage of unfinished works.
The Pre-Works Condition Survey
As a minimum we recommend you request a pre-works conditions survey.
An experience party wall specialist will assess the condition of relevant areas of your property thet could be affected by the works. We take pictures of any existing cracks or defects so that there is a pre-works record.
This document becomes evidence in the event that the building works cause any damage.
In the more straightforward projects we often we act as impartial surveyors for both parties ensuring all the necessary structural design and drawing information is in place and a pre-work condition survey has been done. We also facilitate a common sense agreement as to how the works are to be carried out so as to avoid damage and unreasonable disruption while maintaining security and privacy for the adjoining owner during the project.
You can CALL US for FREE ADVICE about how to comply with your obligations and/or protect your interests under the act.