My neighbour has gained planning approval for an extension, do I need a party wall agreement?
There are a number of characteristics of the development work that your neighbour is proposing that may mean a Party Wall Agreement is required. The main two reasons are:
They need to excavate foundations within 3m of your wall / foundation, and there is a chance that they may have to excavate deeper than their foundations.
They share a wall with you and they need to cut into the wall, or alter it in any way.
This is often not easy to spot from the planning application drawings and you need to get a copy of the building regulations application, which contains a more detailed level of design in order to understand the works proposed fully. Most planning applications are listed on line now so if you contact me I can have a look and tell you if the issues is worth pursuing.
What do I need a Party Wall Agreement for?
The idea is that a Party Wall Agreement will contain an accurate record of your property, and a set of rules around how your neighbour can undertake the construction work they are proposing, in order to protect your property and minimise the impact on you. An accurate record will be taken of your property prior to the start of the works, so that if there is any issues during construction, you property will be put back into the position it was in prior to the work.
Is this going to cost me a lot of money?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides that; as your neighbour (the Building Owner) are the ones benefiting form the development of their property; they should be the ones who cover any expenses under the act. You (the Adjoining Owner) have the right to employ a surveyor of your choosing to act for you, and your neighbour will be liable to pay the bill.
I don’t want to cause my neighbour additional expense?
The idea of the Party Wall Act is that it keeps an accurate record of the state of properties that may be impacted by new developments, so that if there are any issues caused by those developments, they can be rectified without the expense of legal proceedings. A Party Wall Agreement can be expensive for your neighbour if you appoint a surveyor and they appoint their own, however if you just want protection, one surveyor can broker the Agreement which will be relatively inexpensive for your neighbour.
I have objected all the way through and don’t want the work to go ahead; how can I stop it?
The Party Wall process is designed to enable development without the need for legal expense slater if there is any issue with the construction. It is intended to provide all parties with a level of protection. The Party Wall process will not stop the works going ahead and is designed to foster agreement between parties, and stop issues occurring during and after construction projects. Once your neighbour has gained planning approval, they are entitled to develop their property, all we can do as part of this process is help protect yours.
What is the process and how long does it take?
The typical process is as follows:
Your neighbour (or their appointed surveyor) issues a notice to you detailing the work they are proposing to undertake, and how it is covered by The Act
If you wish you can then consent to the works and the matter is closed.
If you feel that you require more protection, you would appoint your own surveyor (or agree to use theirs), and Dissent (this is a term used by The Act) to the works..
The surveyors would then undertake a survey of your property that effectively details the condition, and notes any dilapidations, prior to the works proceeding.
The surveyors bind that survey into a Party Wall Agreement which fully details the your neighbour intends to undertake, how it will be delivered, and binds in the condition survey.
This agreement is then signed and they commence works (after 2 weeks or earlier by agreement).
Depending on the relationship between the parties this can take anything from two weeks to around three months. If there is a severe dispute the process can take longer.
If I just ignore the notice that I have been served will it go away?
No, if you refuse to interact, provided the appropriate notices are served you , your neighbour can appoint a surveyor on their behalf.
What if there is a dispute between the parties that just can’t be solved by the Surveyors?
The Act allows for a Third Surveyor to be appointed who will be the final say on any dispute.
What happens if there is some damage caused to my property during the construction works?
Following the completion of the works the surveyors will re-survey your property and check for any changes to the condition. If following this, or during the works any damage has been caused that looks to have been caused by them, it will be your neighbours obligation to fix the damage. Their obligation is to put you back in the position they would have been in had the works not taken place.
So how much will it cost?
Most surveyors charge between £90 and £125 per hour. That would equate to between £750 and £1000 per surveyor plus any VAT that may be charged.
My neighbour has already started works and cracks have started to appear on my wall, what can I do?
The Act provides for Party Wall Agreements to be put in place before the works start. If the construction work has already caused damage to your property then I’m afraid you are into trying to prove it in a court of law and seeking compensation from your neighbour.