I have just received a Party Wall Notice/Party Structure Notice, what does it mean?

It means your neighbour is planning to do some building works which involve or may affect your shared boundary, walls (party) and your property. The Act states that notice must be served so you have the opportunity to protect your interests.

You are entitled to appoint a Surveyor to represent you and, apart from exceptional circumstances, their fees will be paid by the other party.

Call us for free, no commitment advice.

Please note that under the Act, any person who is not party to the works can be appointed as “Surveyor”. However, the Surveyor should have a sound knowledge about construction and be familiar with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 as well as relevant case law.

Stanley & Strong is regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Please read below for some of the most common questions and answers we are asked.

What should I do and what are my options?

In normal circumstances, you have three options:

  1. Agree to the notice
  2. Dissent (dispute) to the notice and use your neighbour's appointed Surveyor (Agreed Surveyor)
  3. Dissent (dispute) to the notice and appoint your own Surveyor

To best answer this question, we will briefly outline the role of Party Wall Surveyor(s):

  1. If you dispute the notice, the Surveyor(s) will inspect your property to prepare a Schedule of Condition. This document lists the exact condition of your property so that any damage caused by the works can be identified and resolved on completion.

    The Surveyor(s) will also prepare a Party Wall Award which specifically lists the works which are allowed and the associated conditions. The Award will typically limit the hours when noisy works can take place and identify where protection needs to be applied to your property.

    If any Party Wall issues arise during the works, the Surveyor(s) can ask for the building works to stop until these issues are satisfactorily resolved. On completion of works, the Surveyor(s) will inspect your property with the Schedule of Condition to identify any damage and award compensation/repairs where applicable.

  2. It is recommended that a Schedule of Condition is undertaken even if you consent to the notice. Without this it will be difficult to prove that any damage has been caused by the works. Furthermore, if the notice has been served incorrectly you may need to recover the cost of any damage under common law and may need to employ a solicitor to do so.

Can you stop the works from taking place?

If the proposed works have planning permission and all other regulatory approvals, you cannot prevent the works from proceeding. We may however be able to change certain design details if they affect your right to future extension/development.

My neighbour does not have planning permission to do the proposed works!

The Party Wall process is entirely separate to the planning process. Your neighbour may have served notice speculatively so that the Party Wall process is already underway by the time Planning Permission is granted (or indeed denied). The proposed works cannot take place without Planning Permission as well as Consent or a Party Wall Award (in the event of dissent) for the elements of the works which fall under the Party Wall Act. You would need to get in touch with your local planning department, or employ a planning specialist, for matters relating to planning.

Why should I appoint a Surveyor if I cannot stop the works from taking place?

A Surveyor will check the proposals to ensure damage, disturbance and disruption are minimised and also to ensure your own right to future extension/development is not compromised.

Below are some of the typical examples of essential clauses we may review and negotiate into the Party Wall Award document (dependent on circumstances):

  • Adequate support to any excavations which may run along your boundary
  • Hoarding or screening to hide unsightly works or prevent soiling of your property
  • Details of materials to be used to rebuild a Party Wall which needs to be demolished
  • Storage and replanting by a professional horticulturist of any plants which are moved or affected by the works
  • Adequate hoarding or protection for children playing in garden
  • Location and design of scaffolding and screening to protect you from falling objects or debris
  • A security deposit if your property is exposed to certain risks

On reviewing the proposals, if we feel your property is at risk, we can appoint a Structural Engineer or other professional to review and amend the proposals. Again these fees will be payable by your neighbour in most circumstances.

We will also work with your neighbour's Surveyor to prepare a Schedule of Condition of your property before works commence. This will ensure the nature and extent of any damage caused by the works can be identified.

Once works are completed, we will revisit your property to identify any damage. We then negotiate with your neighbour's Surveyor to ensure any damage is made good or compensated and, if appropriate, your property cleaned and re-instated to its previous condition.

I want to stay on good terms with my neighbour and I do not want to upset them by appointing a Surveyor and incurring extra costs for them

You are entitled under Act to appoint a Surveyor of your choice.

We strongly recommend to all our clients undertaking works that a Schedule of Condition of an adjoining property is prepared, even if consent to the notice is given. This protects the interests of both parties. We believe your neighbour should offer you this as a minimum.

A personal dispute over damage, inadequate protection of works or any of the other many issues that arise during building works can put a huge strain on your relationship with your neighbour. Therefore by appointing a Surveyor this does help protect your relationship as key issues can be identified from the outset and can be resolved through the Surveyor's negotiations.

Where can I find out detailed information about the Act?

We recommend you click on this link to read more: Government Party Wall Guidance.