We are party wall specialists and advise a variety of clients, from homeowners to local authorities and developers on small residential and large commercial projects.
Making new plans for your home can be exciting but also a little daunting! That’s why we are here to help, advise and act on your behalf. Planning a successful development requires careful use of the land available, using adjacent structures where possible to minimize cost and time.
Should you need help, our team of friendly experts can guide you through the process.
How we can help you
- We offer free advice and will assess whether you are required to serve notice or not
- We guide you through the process, step by step
- We give you a practical estimate of the timescales required, based on your circumstances
- We review all documents at the outset to minimise delays later in the process
- We offer advice to help you maintain a good relationship with your neighbours
- We provide itemised fixed fee quotations for most projects
If you are thinking of building or already have plans and want to know whether you are required to serve notice please contact us. We would be happy to help. Emailing plans is the preferred method – with sight of these we can give the best advice, specific to your project, either by phone or in writing.
What works are covered by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996?
Works that require a party wall notice on a terraced property typically include:
- Loft Conversion
- Side/Rear Extension
- Removal of chimney breast
If you live in a detached property, a party wall notice may be required for:
- Undertaking any works on the boundary (i.e. building a new garden wall).
- Demolishing and rebuilding a wall on the boundary.
- Excavations which fall within 3 or 6 metres of the boundary such as a basement or piling works.
Do you need to start urgently?
Let us know if you need to start works urgently and we can priorities your case (at no extra charge).
We can usually send notices within 24 hours of receiving the required documentation. At this stage we can let you know of any further information required for a party wall award. This information will be updated as soon as possible following our site visit to record a schedule of condition.
Unfortunately, we have limited control over third parties involved but we will ensure they are provided with all the required information as quickly as possible!
Working with Stanley & Strong
We are approachable.
We are approachable
We are a team who works closely together to provide the best service possible. If your surveyor is out, another team member will be available to assist.
We pride ourselves on keeping you informed of the party wall process, as well as the progress of their project on a regular basis.
We are proactive.
We are proactive.
When notified of a dissent, we undertake a detailed review of the drawings and advise the information we anticipate will be required. This saves overall time and costs.
We provide a quality service.
We provide a quality service.
We check the information and ensure what is provided to other surveyors is comprehensive. Beware of cheap quotes – these often rely on your neighbour’s surveyor doing all the work. This surveyor will be on an hourly rate and the result will be delays and higher costs overall.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the party wall process take?
For small projects, we recommend allowing a minimum of 2 months from the date of serving Notice. For more complex projects, such as basements, we recommend allowing a minimum of 3 months.
The timescale is highly dependent on third parties. Under the Act your neighbor may take up to a month to respond to the notice (taking into account that a notice may need following up after 14 days with a formal reminder letter).
If your neighbor dissents, your professional team (architect, engineer, builder) will need to provide answers to any queries raised by the Surveyor(s). This may take time and a party wall award needs to be served before your works can start.
You should bear in mind that most works are subject to a two month notice period. Although it is rare, your neighbours could insist on the notice period even if they consent.
How much will it cost?
Whilst we offer fixed fee quotations for most projects, it is difficult to budget for wider party wall costs. If your neighbor chooses to use their own surveyor, you are usually responsible to pay their reasonable fees which would be charged at an hourly rate. Our expert knowledge of the Act and efficient service helps keep your costs down.
On more complex projects, surveyors may seek the advice of an independent structural engineer whilst reviewing the proposed works. You would also be responsible for these costs.
Can I serve notice myself?
Yes, you can. There are several online resources to help you do this. However our recommendation is to appoint an experienced surveyor to prepare and serve a notice on your behalf.
We regularly experience invalid notices using online templates, which results in new notices being required. This can cause delays and cost more.
We charge the same to prepare a notice as we do to check a notice, which makes using our service competitive.
How quickly can you serve notice?
Timing depends on the information provided as certain key information must be set out in a notice under the Act.
Once we have been provided with all the required information, we prepare and send out a notice in 24-48 hours.
What is a schedule of condition and do I need one?
A schedule of condition is a written and photographic record taken of a neighbor’s property prior to the commencement of the works. It is not a statutory requirement of the Act but is carried out whenever access is provided in the event of a dissent and a party wall award being required.
In the event of consent, we highly recommend that a schedule of condition is carried out. We find that when building works are taking place next door, neighbors begin looking more closely at their walls and ceilings and begin noticing cracks!
With a schedule of condition we are able to demonstrate if these pre-existed the works. Without the benefit of a schedule of condition, the cause of these cracks can be difficult to resolve.
Can I start the party wall process before receiving planning permission?
Yes, the planning and party wall processes are entirely separate. Many people run both in parallel to save time.
The downside is that you are incurring a risk of abortive fees and costs in the event your planning application is refused.
What if my neighbour doesn’t respond or is abroad?
From the time of the serving notice, your neighbour has 14 days to respond. If there is no response within this period, the Act requires a reminder letter be sent. This letter provides your neighbour with a further 10 days to formally respond.
If, after this time there is still no response, a surveyor may be appointed to act for your neighbour under section 10(4) of the Act.
The good news is that we can send copies of the formal notices electronically to any neighbours who live away from the property or abroad. We can in most cases deal with all matters over email, should they be happy to provide an email address.
What is a party wall award?
A party wall award is a legal document which authorises your works if your neighbour dissents to the notice (or fails to respond to it). The award is prepared by the surveyor(s) and served on both owners.
The award sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties and determines how the works should take place. It is your responsibility to ensure your contractor complies with the award.
To give a more practical idea, an award may provide you with a right of access over your neighbour’s land either to build an extension or for scaffolding to be erected.
Can I start any works before an award is in place?
Yes, you can start works which are not covered by the Act.
For works covered by the Act, these cannot commence before your neighbour has consented to the notice or a party wall award has been served.
If you are unsure of what aspects of your project fall under the Act then please get in touch and we will be happy to advise.
What if I go ahead without serving notice or an award?
Your works will be carried out unlawfully if you do not follow due process.
Your neighbour could seek an injunction requiring you to stop your works. You would then be required to serve a notice and wait for the party wall process to run its course. The judge may make you liable for costs and require temporary works are done during this period.
Depending on the detail of your works, certain elements could be deemed as trespassing and could lead to a claim against you under common law.
In the event of a claim over damage, there is case law which demonstrates that judges take a very dim view of a building owner who has carried out works and failed to follow the correct procedure. A judge may take a presumption that you are responsible for all alleged damage unless you can prove otherwise.
When a property is being sold, solicitors usually ask for the relevant paperwork to evidence that notice was correctly served and the party wall process properly followed. Not having the correct paperwork can impact a sale.
Can my works be stopped if I have an award?
Assuming you have planning permission and all other relevant permits, you have the right to undertake the works set out in the award.
The award will set out the manner in which the works must be carried out and therefore you must ensure it is adhered to.
You should be aware that an award can be appealed within 14 days in the County Court. Therefore, if the matter is contentious, it would be prudent to wait for the appeal period to expire before starting.
You are also required to give your neighbour 14 days written notice if you need access to their land (details would usually be set out in the award).
Can I use my neighbour’s wall if they already have an extension? Do I have to pay and why?
The Act provides a number of rights over a party wall to allow you to make use of it for your extension. If your neighbour has previously built or raised a party wall, you would usually be required to pay them half the cost of building or raising the area of wall that you use. This would be calculated at today’s value.
If the wall is on to the boundary but entirely on your neighbour’s land, it might be their wall rather than a party wall. If that is the case, you would not be able to enclose on this wall under the Act.
Can I use a neighbour’s award?
No, party wall awards are specific to one set of works and sets out how those specific works should be undertaken.