Identifying if your building project is applicable to the Party Wall etc Act
If you are undertaking building work your project will be applicable under the Party Wall etc Act if:
- Your building works cut into a party wall.
- Excavate within 3 m and deeper than the neighbour’s properties footings.
- Excavate within 6 m, with the base of the new foundations intersecting the neighbour's footings at a 45° angle.
If the Party Wall etc Act applies then you will have to provide notice to your neighbours. There are many online forms which can be used for free (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/party-wall-etc-act-1996-guidance) we undertake this service for £60 per notice if required. Care and attention however must be made to ensure these notices are correct.
Actions of your neighbours
Once you have issued a notice under the Party Wall etc Act your neighbours will then need to respond, and they can do so in three ways:
- Consent. If they consent to the works they waiver their rights under the Party Wall etc Act and if any damage was to occur to their property they have to go through common law appointing a solicitor for damages. There is no involvement with a surveyor and no Award is drawn up.
- No response. If the neighbours do not respond to the notice they have deemed to have dissented and you have to undertake an award process explained below.
- Dissent. If the neighbours dissent they can appoint a surveyor, also triggering an award process.
If a notice has been dissented to, surveyors must be appointed. This allows a schedule of condition to be drafted which will describe the neighbour’s property in close proximity to the works as well as drafting a set of terms and conditions which you will need to comply to (for the building work). Should any damage occur, there is a photographic and written record and the surveyor(s) will determine the cost of the remedial works.
Can I claim that I did not know the Party Wall etc Act existed?
We are commonly told by building owners that they would undertake the works without issuing notice. This is a risky approach for two main reasons. Firstly the neighbours can obtain an injunction for the works, stopping the builder. This is costly in terms of a delay to your builders. Secondly, if any consequential damage occurs to the neighbours property it is difficult to prove that the damage was not there before. In 2003 case “Roadrunner Properties Ltd v Dean” it was determined that it is the responsibility of the building owners disapprove the building work has caused reported damage. Therefore not providing notice can have a catastrophic financial implication.