Party Wall Surveys

If you are about to, or intend to carry out work to your property, there are certain works which fall under the Party Wall etc Act 1996. You may very well have a Statutory Duty to serve notice on the owners of adjoining properties. 

J Browne Surveys provides Party Wall advice and services in respect of properties across the whole of Kent, including:

  • Advice on the correct Party Wall process

  • Serving Party Wall Notices

  • Acting as your appointed Surveyor

  • Actings as the Agreed Surveyor for both parties (Building Owner and Adjoining Owner)

  • Preparing a Schedule of Condition

  • Legally agree Party Wall Awards (or as they are commonly referred to: 'Party Wall Agreements')

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The Party Wall 'Test'

 

Do you intend to carry out work which involves...

Work on an existing wall, ceiling or floor structure shared with another property?

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Building on or at the boundary with another property?

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Excavating near a neighbouring building or structure?

*

"

It's a good idea to serve notice before you make a Planning Application or your neighbours may be notified by other surveyors encouraging them to dissent and appoint them as their advisers.

"

James Browne BSc (Hons), CIOB, AssocRICS, MFPWS

If so, you must find out whether the work falls within the scope of the Act, and if it does, you must serve the statutory notice on all those defined in the act as 'adjoining owners'.

Glossary of terms

 

Don't be dismayed by the jargon. We provide further explanations of common terms found thoughout the Party Wall process. 

Adjoining Owner


If you have been served a party wall notice it is because your neighbour wants to undertake work on their property that could affect your property. This work could involve any of the following:

  • build on or at the boundary of your property
  • carry out work on an existing party wall
  • dig below or near the foundation of their property
  • build a new wall
  • cut into a party wall
  • make a party wall taller/shorter/deeper
  • remove a chimney from a party wall
  • knock down and rebuild a party wall
  • build an extension or basement
If the works are governed by the Party Wall Act, they will need to serve you with a party wall notice. This must be done at least two months before the notifiable works begin, and at least one month before the notifiable excavation works begin. Notifiable work is either building work which affects a party wall or boundary line, or excavations within three or six metres of a neighbouring property (depending on the depth of the foundations). This will include most extensions and basement and loft conversions. In reality you don’t have to do anything until a notice is served by the building owner and then you have the option to appoint any party wall surveyor you choose or to agree to the work. You have options if this happens: 1. You may consent in writing to a notice and allow the works to continue without the need for surveyors to be appointed and an award to be made; 2. consenting to a notice does not affect your rights under the Act should a dispute relating to the works subsequently arise, and at that subsequent time if necessary, a surveyor of your choosing can be appointed; 3. as the adjoining owner it usually costs you nothing to have a surveyor to protect your interests, as the person doing the work normally pays all the fees. 4. once an appointment form is signed agreeing to a surveyor’s appointment, that appointment cannot be rescinded, as per section 10(2) of the Act. Contact us if :
  • You have just been served a ‘Notice’.
  • A neighbour has, or is about to start work and has not served a ‘Notice’ when you feel one ought to have been served.
We can, on your behalf:
  • Serve Party Wall Notices.
  • Undertake a Schedule of Conditions.
  • Agree and serve Party Wall Awards.
  • Act on your behalf if the Building Owner refuses to engage the Act.
Read a copy of our standard 'Letter of Appointment' (see below in this list).
We ensure that our Clients are fully aware of their obligations and rights under the Act and in this capacity we ensure that all appropriate notices are served, designs are correctly considered, the appropriate schedules are produced and all necessary duties are discharged by both the building owner and adjoining owner, depending upon our appointment. The Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor’s Tasks Some of the tasks that the adjoining owner’s surveyor is responsible for carrying out and charging for include:
  • Review of the initial notice and any associated drawings
  • The exchange of appointment letters and selection of a third surveyor
  • Assessment of the adjoining owner’s property condition.
  • Assisting the Building Owner’s surveyor carry out the schedule of condition
  • Review of the draft Schedule of Condition and Award
  • Agreement of any outstanding points with the building owner’s surveyor
  • Review and approval of the fair copies of the award
  • Checking off of the Schedule of Condition after the works have been completed
Note that the final two tasks on the list above are completed after the fee is agreed, which means the total time spent for each of said tasks is estimated.




Supplemental Terms & Conditions of Engagement


Click here to see J Browne Surveys' Supplemental Terms & Condititions of Engagement.




Helpful Links / Party Wall Booklet


HELPFUL LINKS You can of course serve the relevant documents on your neighbours yourself. Use the example letters in the government's Party Wall booklet (PDF). Be sure to fill in the blanks correctly, otherwise the notice will not be valid. Don't assume you know who owns the house next door. Get details of all the current legal owners from the Land Registry website.
You can get 30 minutes worth of free advice from the RICS helpline (020 7222 7000) and the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (01424 883300). They may forward you to local members. Regardless of who appoints the Surveyor, he is obliged by the Act to act impartially on behalf of both the building owner and adjoining owner.




Building Owner


If you intend to carry out any of the following works:
  • to cut into a wall to take the bearing of a beam e.g. for a loft conversion
  • inserting a damp proof course in a Party Wall

  • demolish a chimney breast

  • to raise the whole party wall and, if necessary, cut off any projections which prevent you from doing so

  • Demolishing and re-building or altering a ‘party fence wall’ that is a
  • masonry garden or yard wall
  • to demolish and rebuild the party wall
  • to underpin the whole wall
  • to protect two adjoining walls by putting a flashing from the higher over the lower
  • excavating lower than a neighbour’s foundations if closer than 3 metres or 6 meters away
you must inform all adjoining owners.

You must not even cut into your own half of the wall without telling the next door neighbour of your intentions. If you start work without having given notice in the proper way, adjoining owners may seek redress through the courts. A neighbour cannot stop someone from exercising the rights given to them by the Act, but they can influence how and when the work is 'done’.

The purpose is to let neighbours know the extent of the work and to provide a framework for preventing or resolving disputes. The Act is not intended to stop building work. The Act also says that a building owner must not cause unnecessary inconvenience. The building owner must provide compensation for any damage and must provide temporary protection for buildings and property where necessary.




Schedule of Condition


Quite often it is necessary and useful to have a detailed record of a property’s condition at a point in time. This is known as a Schedule of Condition. It is used as a benchmark against which its condition can be assessed in the future and any changes identified. A typical schedule of condition will record and assess the condition of each building element — walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows etc. — and usually record this in a tabular format with columns describing the type and condition of each element. It is usually accompanied by photographs for later cross reference. Party Wall Awards usually include a record of condition, the purpose being to record a building’s condition before any work starts which can be checked in the event of any future dispute or allegation of damage. Sometimes a schedule is requested even where neighbours have consented to the works. In these cases, the schedule usually covers only those areas most likely to be affected by the neighbour’s building works, rather than the whole building. The Schedule of Condition Process: The Party Wall Surveyor will review the existing plans and proposed plans in advance of the construction works commencing. The surveyor will then review the proposed construction works from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property, thereby identifying those areas within the adjoining owner’s property that will be included within the Schedule of Condition Report. The surveyor then visits the adjoining owner’s property in advance of the construction works commencing to take a recorded schedule of its current condition. The aim of the inspection is to ensure that there is a thorough and impartially prepared record in place prior to the construction works commencing. Next, the surveyor will prepare the full report that sets out the existing condition of the adjoining owner’s property. The report will include a thorough written record of the property condition along with fully indexed photographs. This Report will then be provided in both PDF format and hard copy to both the building owner and adjoining owner. J Browne Surveys Schedule of Condition Reports are set at fixed costs and include the inspection, report and any time incurred in the unfortunate event that damage is caused as a result of the construction works. Flats Studio Flat Fees from £390 1 Bedroom Flat Fees from £410 2 – 3 Bedroom Flat Fees from £430 Houses 1 – 3 Bedroom House Fees from £450 3 plus Bedroom House Fees from £480 Other Property Depending on the complexity the fee can be from £500 upwards.




Party Wall Award


A Party Wall Award is a legal document, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of the Owner instigating the building works (in party wall parlance, the ‘Building Owner’), and legal owners of the adjacent, or nearby property (defined by the Party Wall Act as an ‘Adjoining Owner.’). The Award is drafted by party wall Surveyors (or by an ‘Agreed’ Surveyor, if a single Surveyor acts for both Building Owner and Adjoining Owner). The Award describes the works to be carried out that are covered by the Party Wall etc Act 1996 (often, the ‘party wall’ works are just one part of a wider scheme). It sets out the timing and manner of the proposed works and can include drawings and method statements. On the basis that a ‘Building Owner’ is obliged to make good any damage that the party wall works causes to the Adjoining Property, a schedule of condition is usually also included. This is a record of the condition of the neighbouring property, which is compiled before any relevant works commence. The schedule of condition then acts as a point of reference, if the party wall works cause damage. Owing to the fact an Award is legal document, the recommendation is that party wall Awards are kept in a safe place, ideally with the Deeds to a property. They can prove to be a useful source of information later, to clarify the scope of works already carried out, and which ‘ownership’ instigated them. Less often, an Award can be put in place retrospectively, if no Notice has been served, but works have been carried out, that fall within the remit of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 have been carried out. This may be required, if damage has been caused to neighbouring properties.




Party Wall Structures


Party Walls or Party Structures are defined as one of the below:

  • A wall that ‘straddles’ the boundary line between two premises is a party wall, even if it has not been built against and does not form a part of the neighbour’s building.
  • A wall that divides two premises and forms a part of the structure of both is a party wall. This applies even if only part of the wall forms a part of the structure.
  • A flank wall of a building that has been built against is a party wall to the extent that both premises use it. This means part of the wall can be a party wall and part might not be. This is the case even if the enclosure was done after the building was originally built.
  • A garden wall straddling the boundary is called a Party Fence Wall — repair costs will be shared under the Act.
  • Other parts of a building may be party structures and need similar process and notices — for instance the floor between two flats is a party structure.
Determining if a particular building project is within the scope of the Act is often more complex than simply checking the general criteria stated above. Failure to correctly identify the status of your project could result in the building works being unlawful. If you are in any doubt you should always seek professional advice.




Notices


Information provided for notice: J Browne Surveys Notices are prepared based upon the drawings and information provided to us by the Building Owner or their consultant(s). We do not automatically make a prior inspection to verify the drawings and we will make enquiries and reasonable assumptions to obtain any information which is not provided but we cannot be responsible for any losses that may arise from any defects with the notices arising from errors or omissions in the information provided. If requested to do so we will make a prior inspection but this would incur an additional fee. If structural engineering drawings are not available, to assist and for no additional fee, we will annotate designers drawings to show information relating to excavation depths necessary to validate a Notice of Adjacent Excavation. We will do this based on our judgement but we will not accept responsibility for any losses arising from this, therefore, if this risk is to be avoided notices should not be served until adequate engineering information is available. The Party Wall Act requires that notice be served on any person who has a tenancy agreement of more than 1 year and such tenants would not be listed on the Land Registry. We would serve notice on owners who are listed on the Land Registry and any other persons or entities that you advise us are owners. We would also make enquiries with freeholders when and if they respond to our notices but we would not accept responsibility for failing to serve notice on adjoining owners that, following the above process, we are not aware of. When a Notice is served on the neighbouring properties (Adjoining Owners) they have three options:

Option 1: Consent to the works, in which instance no further action is required, although we would advise a Schedule of Condition is taken to record the condition of the neighbouring property prior to the works commencing.
Option 2: Dissent to the notice, but agree upon the same surveyor as the individual(s) undertaking the works. Option 3: Dissent to the notice and appoint their own surveyor. Under the Act, in most scenarios, the person(s) carrying out the works (building Owner) are responsible for the fees for the neighbours surveyor. With options 2 and 3 a schedule of condition is produced of the neighbouring property which is in close proximity to the works. The schedule of condition acts as a record of the properties condition prior to the works commencing, if any damage is caused to the neighbouring property which is attributable to the notifiable works the Building Owner will be at liberty to make good. A Party Wall Award will also be produced which will lay out the rights and duties of the parties with regards to the party wall.




Procedure Flow





Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS)


Members of The Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors have been trained and been assessed for competence in party wall matters and are bound by the Faculty’s Code of Conduct.
We are members of RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors), the CIOB (Chartered Institute of Building) and the FPWS (Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors), which means you can be confident of receiving sound advice and the highest standards of professional service before, during and after your project is complete.




Printable Information PDF


Please find our printable summary of Party Wall Services and Fees here.




Standard Letter of Appointment


Party Wall etc. Act 1996 LETTER OF APPOINTMENT - Adjoining Owner I/We ------------------------ of... . ... Postcode: ... . Email: ------------------------ Daytime Telephone ------------------------ Mobile ------------------------ confirm we are an adjoining owner as defined by section 20 of the above Act of: and hereby AUTHORISE and INSTRUCT James Browne (BSc Hons) MCIOB, AssocRICS, MFPWS of J Browne Surveys, 44 Hackington Road, Tyler Hill, Canterbury, CT2 9NQ to sign, issue, serve, receive and respond to all notices and requests under the Act on my/our* behalf relating to the works currently proposed at the above property. In the event of a dispute or deemed dispute arising, or having arisen, within the meaning of the Act we hereby appoint the same James Browne to act in the capacity of surveyor appointed by [the adjoining building owner(s)] in accordance with section 10 of the Act. In the event of [Building Owner(s)] electing for the appointment of an agreed surveyor to settle matters in dispute we would, in the alternative, appoint the same James Browne to act in the role of agreed surveyor within the meaning of the Act. We further authorise James Browne to make all requests and appointments under the Act on our behalf which may be necessary to expedite the progress of the matter. I hereby agree that my data entered in the Letter of Appointment will be stored electronically, and will be processed and used for the purpose of establishing contact. I am aware that I can revoke my consent at any time. Yours sincerely, Signed: ------------------------ Date: ------------------------ Print name: ------------------------ Signed: ------------------------ Date: ------------------------ Print name: ------------------------ (* Delete as appropriate) Note 1: Duplicate signature, date and name lines as necessary for joint multiple adjoining owners. Note 2: All adjoining owners must sign this letter of appointment. An ‘adjoining owner’ is defined by s.20 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Note 3: By signing this letter of appointment, you confirm that you are the (adjoining) owner as stated in the Land Registry title, or hold a lease of the premises for a term certain of more than 12 months. Note 4: All appointments are subject to the General and Supplemental Terms & Conditions of Engagement issued by J Browne Surveys which can be found at: www.jbrownesurveys.co.uk