I have received a party wall notice - What do I do?
So you have received a party wall notice through the post or through your door, either from your neighbour directly or perhaps from a party wall surveyor representing them.
They have done this as it is a legal obligation to notify you about certain works they are about to undertake which may affect your property being close to or on your Boundary.
You cannot stop the neighbour undertaking the works but if you have concerns this gives you an opportunity to make sure that the work will be carried out in a professional way and will not present risks to your property.
You should respond to the notice within 14 days and in writing. You have three choices - 1. you can consent to the works,
2. you can dissent to the works but appoint the surveyor as an agreed surveyor representing both you and your neighbour or
3. you can dissent to the works and appoint your own surveyor.
In most instances, your neighbour who is having the work done will be responsible for the surveyors fees. However, if you act unreasonably in demanding time unnecessarily from either of the surveyors they may award some of the costs for you to pay. However, in practice, this is rare.
Even if you consent, you do not waive your rights to dissent at a later stage if you have worries about the work taking place.
If you appoint an agreed surveyor, which is quite normal for smaller domestic projects such as loft conversions, rear extensions, chimney breast removal et cetera. they will then visit your property to take a photographic schedule of condition. They will prepare and serve a party wall award, which is a legal document, on both you and your neighbour. This award will set out details of the dispute and may contain direction for the neighbours and builders to follow such as the hours in which they may make noise, how your property and its occupants will be protected and how compensation may be paid if the work incurs damage.
If you decide to appoint your own surveyor, they will contact your neighbour's surveyor and the two will select a third surveyor who can arbitrate should the two surveyors already appointed not be able to agree on a matter. They will then proceed to visit your property together to take a schedule of condition and will work together on producing and serving a party wall award to resolve the dispute. Again, both surveyors fees would normally be paid by the building owner having the work done.
What happens if you do not reply to the party wall notice? Our next blog will deal with this.