If you’re planning on doing some building work, you’re probably aware that you need to comply with building and planning regulations. Something that you might not be aware of, however, is that you may also need to serve party wall notice.
You might need to give party wall notice in a range of circumstances. It usually affects the owners of terraced or semi-detached houses the most.
If you’re planning on doing building work, it’s important that you’re aware of the procedures relating to party walls and don’t fall on the wrong side of the law.
To avoid getting any nasty surprises, read on to find out more about party wall notice.
What’s a party wall?
A party wall is a wall that divides two separate buildings. Party walls include walls that separate terraced or semi-detached houses.
Party walls tend to have ownership boundaries attached to them. Ownership boundaries usually either run down the centre of the party wall or on one side of it. If the ownership boundary runs down one side of the wall then it’s only a party wall where there is a building on that side.
Another type of party wall is one that divides two pieces of land. This is called a party fence wall and is most commonly a wall that divides gardens attached to separate properties.
What’s party wall notice?
The law says that you must tell your neighbours if you’re planning on doing any building work near or on your shared party wall. This is called party wall notice. Work that you have to tell your neighbours about includes:
- Cutting into the party wall
- Making the party wall taller, shorter or deeper
- Removing chimneys from the party wall
You can find more examples of work that you need to notify your neighbours about on the government’s website. You don’t have to tell your neighbours about minor work you’re going to do, like drilling, plastering or rewiring.
Your neighbours can’t stop you from making changes to your home, as long as the work you’re doing complies with any relevant legislation. However, they can affect how and when you carry out the work.
When and how should I serve party wall notice?
You should formally serve party wall notice to your neighbours between 2 months and a year before you plan to start the work. Notice should be given in writing and include a detailed plan showing the work you want to do. If you’re not sure what to write, here are some handy example letters.
It’s a good idea to speak to your neighbours about the work you want to carry out before you serve them written notice. If your neighbours know about your plans before you put them in writing, they could be more likely to respond quicker. They also might appreciate you telling them in advance and may be more likely to agree to you starting work earlier if you want to.
What happens next?
If your neighbours consent to you doing your planned work, they should let you know in writing within 14 days. If they want to serve a counter notice, which requests that additional work be done while you’re doing yours, they should do this in writing within a month.
If your neighbours don’t give consent, this will start the dispute resolution process. This will also happen if they don’t respond within the given time or you can’t agree on the work that will be done.
What does the dispute resolution process involve?
To try and achieve a resolution that both you and your neighbours are happy with, you’ll need the help of a surveyor. You can appoint a surveyor together, hire one each or hire one for your neighbours if they fail to do so themselves.
The surveyor(s) will draw up a party wall award. This is a legal document that says:
- The work that will be carried out
- How and when this work will be carried out
- Who will pay for the which part and how much will be paid
Hopefully, the party wall award should satisfy both you and your neighbours. If one or both of you disagree, however, you can appeal at a county court within 14 days of receiving the award.
So now you should know a bit more about party wall notice. If you have to serve party wall notice, hopefully you’ll find it a quick and easy process. If this isn’t the case and you find yourself needing a surveyor, we can help. Fill in our online form and we’ll put you in touch with up to 4 surveyors in your local area.