Home Guide to Procedure Action by Adjoining Owners

Action by Adjoining Owners


Your neighbour intends carrying out building work that may affect your property eg constructing an extension at the back or to the side of their property, excavating for a basement or creating rooms in the attic roof space, in which case it is likely but not necessarily certain that they will be obliged to serve notice on you under the provisions of the Party Wall etc Act 1996. 

For works of an inconsequential nature it is permissible and indeed desirable that your neighbour should, to preserve good relations, talk to you and seek consent. If the risks are minor the best course of action would be to consent in writing adding any sensible condition eg the taking of a Schedule of Condition and seeing that proper contractor’s insurance is in place. A good example of when consent should be granted is under Section 6 of the Act for Excavation where perhaps the proposed foundation is within say 1.5 metres but only 300 to 400 metres lower (not in sand!)

Where there is genuine apprehension over the extent of the proposed work by the Developer (Building Owner) the neighbour (Adjoining Owner) should, to minimise the Building Owner’s costs, consider appointing the same Surveyor as appointed by the Building Owner – That Surveyor is then called the Agreed Surveyor.

If you are unsure about what to do, consult an experienced Party Wall Surveyor. 

 Turning now to the cases where there is a perceivable risk to the Adjoining Owner’s property and for whatever reason you wish to dissent from a Notice or Notices, you may appoint a Surveyor within 14 days and must do so on Notice within a further 10 days. 

The Surveyor is “appointed” not “instructed”, however, you, as the Adjoining Owner, are legally responsible for paying them, the cost of so doing normally being claimed as costs from the Building Owner. This is only fair and reasonable since the Surveyor acts on your behalf. The service is provided to you. However it has long been the custom and practice for this procedure to be short-circuited by the expedient of the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor agreeing his fee with the Building Owner’s Surveyor and then sending an invoice, addressed to the Building Owner but to his Surveyor for onward transmission to the Building Owner with a demand for payment. Difficulties arise if the Building Owner does not pay in which case the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor should obtain a letter of assignment from the Adjoining Owner. The alternative would be for the Adjoining Owner to seek a County Court Order enforcing the provision in the Award relating to payment of costs (including Surveyor’s fees). 

So what should the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor do?:-

  1. Ensure that he/she is properly appointed.
  2. Ensure that the Building Owner’s Surveyor is properly appointed.
  3. Will the Building Owner’s Surveyor select the Third Surveyor?
  4. Check that the Notices served comply with the provisions of the Act and, if not, advise on the next steps to be taken.  
  5. Review the construction package for and seek clarification if necessary.
  6. Obtain Method Statements where applicable.
  7. Agree a Schedule of Condition.
  8. Negotiate and agree a draft Award.
  9. Sign and serve the Award to his appointing owner. At this stage the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor’s work should be complete but on occasions there may be a provision in the Award for him/her to make one or two site visits and, if so, one of them is likely to be on completion of the works.
  10. Anything else eg attending site to inspection alleged damage etc will incur a fee to be paid as directed in a Further Award.