Home Guide to Procedure

Basic Guide to Procedure

So you want to build an extension or convert your loft into a bedroom or dig out a basement or carry out work that may have a permanent or temporary affect upon your neighbour? What you are required todo under the provisions of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 will depend upon the precise nature of the proposed work, for example, when dealing with an extension built up to the boundary line it may be necessary to serve a Notice under Section 1 and Section 6, the former being a Line of Junction Notice and the latter being a Notice of Excavation. In the case of a loft conversion it is likely that a notice under Section 3 relating to the works listed in Section 2 may have to be served. It is a near certainty that, if you wish to dig out a basement, notice will have to be served under Sections 3 and 6.

Notices must:
  • Name the owners wishing to carry out the work and name your neighbours (adjoining owners)
  • Clearly indicate the work to be done under the Act.
  • State when the work is to be started.
  • Be dated and signed.
  • Where works under Section 6 are contemplated, be accommpanied by a drawing showing the position and depth of the proposed foundations.
  • Where building immediately next to the boundary, describe the proposed wall, ie height, length and materials. This is probably best achieved by attaching a drawing to the Notice and making reference to it.
Notices may be accompanied by drawings showing work to the party walls, extensions etc, in which case it is best practice to highlight in colour the relevant works so that the recipient of the drawings can clearly understand the proposals.
Notice periods are:-

  • Section 1 - One month
  • Section 3 - Two months
  • Section 6 - One month

With your neighbour's agreement in writing you may start earlier.

So what happens next? Your neighbours, the adjoining owners,on receipt of your notice(s) have the following options:-
  1. Consent in writing within fourteen days (but may take longer).
  2. Consent with conditions (which may be refused) in writing within fourteen days but may take longer.
  3. Do nothing for fourteen days in which case a letter is sent to your neighbours giving them ten days in which to appoint a Surveyor.
  4. Dissent from the notice when they have to appoint a Surveyor within ten days.
Where a Surveyor has to be appointed and your neighbour neglects to do so then you must make that appointment on their behalf.

Once Surveyors are appointed they will represent your interests but at the forefront of their minds must be the need to act independently ie the "wall" under Section 2 becomes their client rather than you.

When the building owner and the adjoining owner appoint the same Surveyor to act for them, the Act recognises this by conferring the title Agreed Surveyor. Where a real or deemed dispute arises between the parties, the Agreed Surveyor route is normally the cheapest and most efficient.

It is fallacious to believe that because the building owner normally pays the fees of the Surveyors, control over them is exercised. Party Wall Surveyors must act independently and if they fail to do so then an aggrieved owner can appeal any Award made by the Surveyors in the County Court.

Surveyor's fees must be reasonable and proportionate.

A point to remember- Building Owners do not have a right to place reinforced foundations (known as Special foundations) under any part of a wall belonging to an adjoining owner. Thiswork requires specific written consent.

Another point often overlooked. There is nothing to stop neighbours agreeing to proposed works without notice being served BUT any such agreement must bewritten and clear in its meaning.