When to Serve a Party Wall Notice
Updated: Oct 28
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 lays down explicit time periods for when Building Owners must serve notice on the Adjoining Owner before the work is due to start. One month for new walls built on the line of boundary or adjacent excavation work within 3 metres and deeper than that of a neighbouring property’s foundations and two months for works on an existing party structure.
Notice periods typically hold minimal significance, as once an adjoining owner has given consent they are generally amenable to the commencement of works. The following statement is written in our Party Wall Notices that we produce on behalf of Building Owners;
“ We propose to commence works one month from the date of this notice or earlier if you agree."
Securing a prompt written consent from the Adjoining Owner for the proposed works, as stated in the Party Wall Notice, is the most favourable outcome. Nonetheless, there are instances where this may not occur, and the Adjoining Owner may choose to dissent from the Party Wall Notice. In such cases, it is important to acknowledge that the Party Wall Process will entail a longer duration for completion. This should be taken into account by the Building Owner when determining the timing of serving Party Wall Notices, as the Party Wall Process must be entirely concluded before any construction work commences.
The only Party Wall Notice which the Party Wall Act stipulates to be accompanied by proposed drawings is the Excavation Notice. Floor plans and section details of the proposed foundations, showcasing the foundation depth and width, are all that is needed to satisfy this requirement. Therefore, technically speaking, you are able to serve Party Wall Notices on the Adjoining Owner with sketch drawings (containing the relevant information) from the architect before you apply for planning permission with the Local Authority. You are also permitted to serve Party Wall Notices during the wait for planning approval after you have submitted your official plans to the Local Authority. However, if your proposed project gets rejected by the Council, the Party Wall Notice that was served (and possibly consented to) may become invalid. You will have to amend the description of your works on the Party Wall Notices according to the re-design of your project, and serve this newly amended Notice on your Adjoining Owner.
Asking your neighbour to sign multiple agreements can cause them to develop feelings of concern about your project, so it is best to get it right on the first try.
Regardless of the project type, we find that Adjoining Owners are most likely to respond positively to a Party Wall Notice when they are provided with a full set of drawings detailing your proposed project. These drawings enable Adjoining Owners to gain a clear visualisation of how your project will impact their property and allow them to anticipate any potential disturbances during the construction phase. Another practice we highly advise Building Owners is to chat to their neighbour beforehand. Your neighbours will appreciate you letting them know about your project, rather than finding out through a letter from the Local Authority or a Party Wall Notice. Keeping Adjoining Owners in the loop and providing them with enough information is crucial for their reassurance and can greatly impact their response to your Party Wall Notice, with the potential to work in your favour.
To conclude, we recommended serving Party Wall Notices as early as feasibly possible, as how quickly the Adjoining Owners respond to the Notice will determine the length of your Party Wall Process. For more information on how long the Adjoining Owners have to respond to Notices and what happens when they ignore Notices, please visit our Page on Party Wall Notices here.
If you would like assistance with creating Party Wall Notices or would like advise from our surveyors on which Party Wall Notices are applicable for your project, we are happy to receive your emails for any inquiries.