party wall assessment

Party wall surveyors in North Essex & Cambridgeshire

As renowned Party Wall specialists, we have been trusted for over 20 years to deliver projects and protect people’s homes.

 

WHAT IS THE PARTY WALL ACT?

We have many years experience of dealing with party wall matters so are well placed to help you navigate the process, whether you’re the party planning the works (referred to as the ‘building owner’) or an affected neighbour (the ‘adjoining owner’).

These are some of the works which will typically fall within the scope of the Act and must therefore be formally notified to affected neighbours:

  • Loft conversions where structural beams are inserted in to the party wall (a party wall is a wall that divides the properties of different owners)
  • The cutting away of internal walls or chimney breasts from a party wall.
  • Extensions (including basements) where the foundations are within 3 metres of a neighbouring or shared structure.
  • Constructing a new wall either astride or up to the boundary with a neighbouring property e.g. as part of a rear extension.

Building Owners

The process starts with service of the necessary notices – there are 3 types covering various aspects of work such as those described above – each has its own notice period and there is specific information that must be included. Owners can draft their own notices but it takes a bit of research to get it correct and even minor errors can render a notice invalid. We can do this for you for a modest fee of £65 plus VAT per adjoining owner.

Before drafting the notice(s) on your behalf we’ll review the drawings (without charge), explain the procedures and quote a fee for acting as your appointed surveyor should the need arise. You will then be clear on exactly what to expect.

If the notice is consented to, it effectively completes the process and works can commence (subject to notice periods having run or been waived). However, if your neighbour does not consent, or fails to respond, a ‘dispute’ arises and each party must appoint a surveyor to resolve that dispute by producing a document known as ‘party wall award’.

A party wall award authorises the notified works, including access where that is necessary, but only in a manner that reduces the risk of damage to shared or neighbouring structures as much as possible and does not inconvenience adjoining occupants any more than is necessary. The surveyor(s) must strive to find a reasonable balance.

If you are planning works which fall within the scope of the Act and would like further advice (without charge) please contact us either via email or by calling 01223 620755.

Adjoining Owners

If you’ve received a party wall notice, or believe that you should have, we’re happy to provide some initial advice without charge. If the works are minor you may feel comfortable consenting to the notice; perhaps with us preparing a schedule of condition (see below).

However, if the works put your property at significant risk or you have other particular concerns you may choose to appoint us. While we cannot prevent legitimate works from going ahead it is our job to ensure that they are undertaken with the minimum of risk and without causing you unnecessary inconvenience.

We will also ensure that you are compensated for any losses which arise as a result of the works, receive any expenses that are due to you and are aware of all your rights including the right to request security where that might be appropriate. In all normal circumstances our fee will be paid by your neighbour.

If you’ve received a party wall notice and would like to discuss your options, please feel free to contact us either via email or by calling 01223 620755.

How much does a party wall survey cost?

If you are planning works, please send us copies of your plans for an overview of the process and a competitive quote.

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Joint Surveyor

The Act allows a single surveyor to act for both owners if they are comfortable with that arrangement (known as the ‘agreed surveyor’). This can work well where the works are minor and the appointed surveyor does not have any other involvement with the works. Appointed surveyors have an obligation to act impartially regardless of which owner contacts them first.

This arrangement can work particularly well where the owners are on friendly terms but would like a surveyor involved to guide them through the process and ensure that both their rights are protected.

You are welcome to contact us on 01223 620755 or via email to discuss further or to request a fixed fee for undertaking this role (please include drawings if requesting a fee).

Schedules of Condition

Where an adjoining owner consents to a party wall notice we would still recommend that a schedule of condition is recorded. This is a detailed written record, supported by photographs, covering the parts of the property which are at risk from the works. That will typically be those parts within approx. 3 metres, both horizontally and vertically, although that can be extended depending upon the nature of the proposed works.

Building owners can include an offer to pay for a schedule of condition when notice is served to improve the chances of a consent or an adjoining owner might make the preparation of a professional schedule a condition of their consent.

If you would like further advice (without charge) on any of the procedures set out above you are welcome to contact us either via email or by calling 01223 620755.

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