“Party Wall Agreements ensure that your neighbour doesn’t suffer loss or damage to their property due to your project, and lets them limit disturbance by influencing working hours and access” Director of Content Michael Holmes.
Poorly completed structural changes are a frequent source of cracking and movement, and have on occasion been linked to the collapse of surrounding structures. This is one reason why the Party Wall Act is such an important concern.
The Act and the agreement are in place to safeguard neighbouring properties and any potential conflicts that may arise during construction.
When Do I Need a Party Wall Agreement?
The first step you need to do prior to executing any construction work on site is to notify the adjacent owner(s) with an official notice in writing that is known as an Party Wall Agreement.
It is usually taken care of a few months prior to the start of work (in some instances, it is enough to wait for a month but it is the longer you give, the more advance).
While this initial notice may be made on your behalf , by the appointment of a surveyor or solicitor however, it’s usually more beneficial to remain in the control during this initial stage.
The best method is to first discuss with your neighbors about your planned extension in order to ensure their peace of mind prior to the time either you, or the surveyor sends the necessary notice.
If your neighbors are leaseholders or tenants you must inform the landlord or freeholder. Another good reason to take the initial decision your own is that lawyers that specialize in this field will typically recommend owners who live near each other not to sign the wall’s notice of a party however, if your neighbour is completely content with your suggestions, they could be enticed to behave in a manner that appears incompatible.
It’s because, if the neighbour who has consented later needed to hire an expert to defend their property, they’d need to pay for the surveyor’s fees (if they do not give their consent, then the person who is extending the consent must pay).
Is a Party Wall Notification Required?
If relations with your neighbour deteriorate and they believe that the work being performed will negatively impact their house, they might seek a court order to prevent you from continuing.
If you have not complied with the Act and you cause significant damage to your neighbor’s property, the court may award compensation for any loss or damage caused by the works, including legal fees.
Only an authorised Notice can prevent this from occurring.
What Is the Time Frame for a Party Wall Agreement?
After the notice has been sent to the neighbours, they have 14 days to reply on the acknowledgment form that was also delivered with the initial notification.
When finished, give your neighbour a copy of the document, together with a copy of the Act and an explanation booklet, two months before you begin.
You’ll give your neighbour 14 days to approve or reject in writing. Inform them that the explanation booklet has templates for both choices.