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  • Clio Domenech

When and How Adjoining Owners Should Contact a Party Wall Surveyor and Seek Professional Guidance

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 serves as a crucial framework for maintaining harmony between property owners when construction or renovation work is planned on or near a shared boundary. Adjoining Owners often find themselves in a dilemma when they notice construction activities next door, wondering whether it's the right time to contact a party wall surveyor. In this blog post, we will highlight when Adjoining Owners should seek professional guidance and outline steps for ensuring the appropriate party wall notices are served.

When to Contact a Party Wall Surveyor:

Adjoining Owners have specific rights granted by the Party Wall Act. These rights include receiving a party wall notice, consenting or dissenting to the proposed work, appointing their surveyor, and ensuring that their property is adequately protected during construction. Being informed about these rights is crucial for making well-informed decisions and Adjoining Owners should contact a party wall surveyor to learn about these rights. So when exactly is the right time to contact a party wall surveyor?

As soon as the Adjoining Owner learns of the neighbour's proposed project, if there are any concerns (little of big) about the planned construction, the Adjoining Owner should promptly address them by proactively reaching out to a party wall surveyor. Early involvement of a party wall surveyor ensures that Adjoining Owners can benefit from the protection offered by the Party Wall Act. It is imperative that Adjoining Owners contact a party wall surveyor before any construction work commences. Once the works have begun, the Act's provisions regarding notice periods and dispute resolution will no longer be applicable.

Adjoining Owners are officially notified of any proposed works through a Party Wall Notice either served by the Building Owner, or, in some cases, their party wall surveyor. The Party Wall Act specifies a timeline for serving Party Wall Notices. Party structure notices must be served two months before any works on a party wall or structure and one month before building a new wall on the line junction or excavation work. This is the stage at which party wall surveyors, acting on behalf of Adjoining Owners, typically become involved. If an Adjoining Owner wishes to dissent from the party wall notice, they respond to the Building Owner, naming the appointed Party Wall Surveyor. Dissenting triggers a dispute, and only party wall surveyors can resolve such conflicts. These surveyors play a pivotal role in facilitating communication between property owners, ensuring Party Wall Act compliance, and safeguarding the interests of both parties.

Following the Adjoining Owner's written dissent, the Building Owner faces a pivotal decision. They can either opt to appoint the same surveyor, functioning as the "Agreed Surveyor," or select an independent surveyor of their own.* This situation assumes that the Building Owner will issue a Party Wall Notice to the Adjoining Owner before the commencement of works. Nevertheless, real-world scenarios can be unpredictable, and we will explore these situations along with effective strategies for resolution.

What to do if No Party Wall Notice is Being Served:

In cases where the Adjoining Owner is well-versed in the Party Wall Process, and the Building Owner lacks familiarity with the Party Wall Act and their legal obligations, it is advisable for the informed neighbor (Adjoining Owner) to enlighten them about the necessity of serving appropriate Party Wall Notices for their planned works. If the Building Owner proves reluctant to heed advice, suggesting consultation with a party wall surveyor becomes crucial. A professional surveyor can effectively elucidate the Building Owner's responsibilities as the project holder proposing works that will impact the neighbouring property, increasing the likelihood of the Building Owner comprehending and fulfilling their duties.

Proper party wall notices must contain clear details about the proposed works, the expected start date, and any potential impact on the adjoining property. Collaborating with a party wall surveyor ensures that the notice meets legal requirements. If uncertainty arises about the validity of a received Party Wall Notice, Party Wall London stands ready to review it. Furthermore, we extend our support to Building Owners in serving the appropriate Party Wall Notice on the Adjoining Owner.

In unfortunate situations where the Building Owner resists serving a Party Wall Notice, despite their obligation to do so, complications may ensue. In such cases, the Adjoining Owner should promptly engage a Party Wall Surveyor. These professionals can educate the Building Owner about the associated risks when proper procedures are not followed.

In conclusion, Adjoining Owners can benefit from the Party Wall Act by taking a proactive approach and seeking professional guidance at the right time. Early communication, involvement of qualified surveyors, and adherence to the Act's timelines are crucial elements in ensuring a smooth and legally compliant process. Being well-informed and prepared allows adjoining owners to navigate the complexities of the Party Wall Act confidently, protecting their interests during construction or renovation projects next door.

*For more information on having whether to appoint separate surveyors or to have an "Agreed Surveyor" click here.

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