Discover the essential insights on when to consult a Party Wall Surveyor. Explore key scenarios, legal requirements, and expert advice to navigate property disputes and ensure a smooth construction process. Trust our comprehensive guide for a seamless resolution to your party wall matters

DIY vs. Professional Advice: When to Consult a Party Wall Surveyor

Chris BeltonBy Chris Belton|December 21, 2023|In Party Wall Advice

When undertaking home renovations and construction projects, the do-it-yourself (DIY) ethos often reigns supreme. Many homeowners, buoyed by a sense of self-reliance and a desire to cut costs, may be tempted to tackle various aspects of their projects independently. However, when it comes to party wall matters, the decision to handle things yourself or seek professional advice can have significant implications for the success and harmony of your project. In this blog post, we’ll look into scenarios where homeowners might be tempted to take the DIY route, and why, in the complex world of party walls, consulting a professional surveyor is not just advisable – it’s essential.

 

The Allure of DIY: Understanding the Temptation

Undeniably, the appeal of DIY projects lies in the sense of accomplishment and potential cost savings. When faced with party wall matters, some homeowners may assume that handling the issues independently will be quicker and more budget-friendly. Perhaps it’s a seemingly straightforward project, or there’s a belief that the friendly relations with neighbours will obviate the need for formalities.

 

Scenarios Where DIY Seems Tempting

  1. Minor Alterations: For small-scale renovations or alterations perceived as inconsequential, homeowners may consider bypassing professional advice.
  2. Assumed Amicable Relations: If a homeowner believes their relationship with neighbours is strong, they might assume that party wall matters can be discussed informally without formal documentation.
  3. Budget Constraints: Tight budgets often prompt homeowners to cut costs wherever possible, and some may believe that party wall surveyor fees can be an unnecessary expense.

Discover the essential insights on when to consult a Party Wall Surveyor. Explore key scenarios, legal requirements, and expert advice to navigate property disputes and ensure a smooth construction process. Trust our comprehensive guide for a seamless resolution to your party wall matters

The Pitfalls of DIY Party Wall Handling

While the allure of DIY is understandable, party wall matters involve legal and technical complexities that can’t be overlooked. Here’s why going it alone might lead to unforeseen challenges:

  1. Legal Compliance: Party wall matters are governed by legislation, and failure to adhere to legal requirements can result in costly consequences, including substantial delays to projects, court injunctions, and claims for damage.
  2. Unforeseen Complications: Even seemingly minor projects can encounter unexpected challenges, and a professional surveyor is equipped to navigate such complexities.
  3. Neighbourly Relations: Assumptions about amicable relations may be tested during construction, potentially straining relationships without clear agreements in place.

 

The Role of the Party Wall Surveyor: More Than a Formality

Professional party wall surveyors bring a wealth of expertise to the table, making them invaluable partners in any construction or renovation project. Here’s why consulting a surveyor is a wise investment:

  1. Legal Expertise: Surveyors are well-versed in the intricacies of party wall legislation, ensuring that your project complies with the law.
  2. Conflict Resolution: In the event of disputes or disagreements with neighbours, a surveyor can act as a neutral third party, facilitating resolution and maintaining positive relationships.
  3. Risk Mitigation: Professional surveyors are adept at identifying potential risks and complications, allowing for proactive measures to be taken before they escalate.

 

When to Consult a Party Wall Surveyor

  1. Pre-Construction Planning: Engage a surveyor early in the planning stages to assess the potential impact on party walls and provide guidance on necessary agreements.
  2. Boundary Disputes: If there are uncertainties or disputes regarding property boundaries, a surveyor can help clarify and resolve these issues.
  3. Structural Changes: Any alterations affecting party walls, such as extensions or loft conversions, should prompt consultation with a surveyor.

 

Conclusion: Invest in Professional Peace of Mind

While the allure of DIY projects is undeniable, party wall matters demand a level of expertise and legal understanding that only a professional surveyor can provide. The investment in their services not only ensures legal compliance but also contributes to smoother construction processes and positive neighbour relations. When in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek the guidance of a qualified party wall surveyor. After all, a well-constructed party wall agreement is the foundation for a successful and harmonious project.

Dive into our latest blogs to get the lowdown on party walls. Whether you’re dealing with construction or legal stuff, we’ve got you covered.

For even more insights and updates, explore our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Stay connected with us for the latest in all things party wall related!

Certified Chartered Surveyors You Can Trust


Building New Walls at the Line of Junction

Building New Walls at the Line of Junction

Chris BeltonBy Chris Belton|November 23, 2023|In Party Wall Advice

Introduction

In the world of construction and property development, a nuanced understanding of legal frameworks is essential for fostering smooth progress and maintaining positive relationships with neighbours. The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 serves as a crucial guide, especially when constructing new walls along the line of junction. In this blog post, we will delve into the nuances of Section 1(2) and Section 1(5) notices, exploring the rights of entry that accompany these processes. Additionally, we’ll shed light on the implications for an adjoining owner who does not consent to a Section 1(2) notice and the potential ramifications for future construction plans.

Understanding the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Enacted in the United Kingdom, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 establishes a framework for preventing and resolving disputes between property owners concerning party walls, boundary walls, and excavations near neighbouring buildings. When constructing new walls along the line of junction, compliance with legal procedures is crucial to ensure adherence to the Act.

Section 1(2) Notices

Section 1(2) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 mandates serving notice to adjoining owner(s) where one owner intends to build a wall on the boundary line. That is, partly on their own land, and partly on their neighbour’s land.

This notice must include essential details such as the name and address of the building owner, the nature and particulars of the proposed work, the start date of the work, and its expected duration. Providing comprehensive information in the Section 1(2) notice is crucial to ensuring that adjoining owners are well-informed about the upcoming construction and can raise any concerns they may have.

Party Wall Surveyor East London

Section 1(5) Notices

In addition to Section 1(2) notices, Section 1(5) notices may be required under specific circumstances. Section 1(5) pertains to cases where building owners intend to carry out work solely on their side of the party wall or within their land.

If an owner intends to build a wall up to the boundary line, but entirely on their own land, then they need to serve a notice on their neighbour.

Rights of Entry

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 grants certain rights of entry to building owners to facilitate the construction of new walls along the line of junction. These rights include access to the adjoining owner’s land for the purpose of carrying out the necessary work. However, these rights are not absolute and must be exercised with due consideration for the rights and interests of the adjoining owner. Furthermore, if a notice is not served, then there is no right to enter on to the adjoining owner’s land to construct the wall.

Implications for an Adjoining Owner Who Does Not Consent to a Section 1(2) Notice

If an adjoining owner does not consent to a Section 1(2) notice, there are important implications to consider. In such cases, the wall must be built entirely on the building owner’s land. However, if the wall is built wholly on one owner’s land, then it is not a party wall, and the adjoining owner forfeits the ability to enclose upon or use that wall for their own construction in the future.

This decision can have significant consequences, particularly if the adjoining owner envisions erecting their own extension down the line. If the wall is built entirely on one owner’s land, it may create challenges in the future concerning waterproofing the gap between the two extensions, as well as potential maintenance issues. In contrast, consenting to a wall being built partly on the adjoining owner’s land may offer more flexibility and collaboration for future construction projects.

Conclusion

Building new walls along the line of junction under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 involves a meticulous and considerate process. Section 1(2) and Section 1(5) notices play pivotal roles in informing adjoining owners about the proposed work, while the rights of entry provided by the Act ensure that building owners can carry out their construction activities efficiently.

To find out more about Building New Walls at the Line of Junction and much much more, dive into our latest blogs to get the lowdown on party walls. Whether you’re dealing with construction or legal stuff, we’ve got you covered.

For even more insights and updates, explore our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Stay connected with us for the latest in all things party wall related!

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Understanding the Rights of Entry

Understanding the Rights of Entry under the Party Wall act 1996

Chris BeltonBy Chris Belton|November 6, 2023|In Party Wall Advice

Introduction

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is a crucial piece of legislation that governs the rights and responsibilities of property owners when carrying out building works that may affect party walls, boundaries, or structures shared with neighbors. One of the fundamental aspects of this Act is the provision for “Rights of Entry” under Section 8. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of Section 8 and explore the rights and procedures associated with it.

Section 8: A Legal Framework

Section 8 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 lays down the legal framework for the rights of entry for building owners, allowing them access to adjoining properties in certain circumstances. These rights of entry are an essential aspect of the Act, ensuring that building work can proceed smoothly and without unnecessary delay.

Rights of Entry: When are they required?

Rights of entry may be necessary when carrying out work in the following circumstances:

  1. Excavations adjacent to a neighbouring property.
  2. Building or repairing a party wall or party fence wall.
  3. Constructing new walls on the line of junction.
  4. Cutting into a party wall for various purposes.
  5. Inserting a damp-proof course into a party wall.

It is important to note that these rights of entry are only applicable to the extent necessary for the work in question and should be carried out with minimal inconvenience to the adjoining owner. It is also important to remember that the rights of entry only apply to notifiable works under the Act and that a compliant party wall notice must first be served in order for the rights to be available.

Notifying the Adjoining Owner

Before exercising any rights of entry, the building owner is legally required to serve a formal notice to the adjoining owner. The notice must contain specific details about the proposed works, including their nature, timing, and the extent of the rights requested. This notification provides the adjoining owner with an opportunity to consent or dissent from the proposed works.

Consent or Dissent: Adjoining Owner’s Response

Upon receiving the notice, the adjoining owner has several options. They can either:

  1. Consent to the proposed works: In this case, both parties should agree on the terms and conditions for the rights of entry. This may include discussions on access times, compensation, and the provision of additional safeguards to protect their property.
  2. Dissent: If the adjoining owner disagrees with the proposed works or the terms of access, they have the right to dissent. This disagreement can trigger the appointment of a surveyor or surveyors to resolve the dispute.
  3. No Response: In some instances, the adjoining owner may choose not to respond to the notice. In such cases, the Act provides a mechanism for resolving disputes. In such cases, if no response is received within 14 days, the adjoining owner is deemed to have automatically dissented, and a dispute begun, which will be resolved by surveyor through an award.

Rights of Entry: Key Considerations

When exercising rights of entry under Section 8 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, several key considerations should be kept in mind:

  1. Access Times: The building owner should schedule access times that are reasonable and minimise disruption to the adjoining owner.
  2. Compensation: If the adjoining owner’s property is damaged or they incur expenses due to the work, they may be entitled to compensation. This should be addressed in the agreement between the parties.
  3. Safeguards: Both parties should agree on measures to protect the adjoining owner’s property during the works. This may include reinforcing structures, providing insurance, or taking other precautionary steps.
  4. Surveyors: In cases of disagreement or dissent, the appointment of surveyors may be necessary to resolve disputes and ensure a fair and impartial assessment.

Notice Requirements for Rights of Entry under Section 8

Where entry onto an adjoining premises is required under Section 8, the person carrying out the works must give at least 14 days’ written notice to the adjoining owner. The only exception to this is in the case of an emergency, in which case such notice as may be reasonably practicable should be given. Admittedly, this could be very brief, and therefore consideration needs to be given to the urgency of access. Where there is potential risk to the adjoining property, or people, then it may be reasonable for immediate access to be given.

What if a neighbour refuses entry?

If an adjoining owner refuses entry, they should also be aware of their legal obligations and the consequences of preventing ass.

There may be cases where an adjoining owner does not want people accessing their property. In such cases, where appropriate notice has been given under the Act, then it is an offence for them to prevent entry, and this is confirmed in Section 16(1) & (2) of the Act.

What if there is no one in and the property is locked up?

In the event that you cannot gain access onto the adjoining property having served notice under Section 8, then you may break open any fences or doors in order to enter the premises so long as you are accompanied by a police constable.

Conclusion

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 plays a vital role in safeguarding the interests of both building owners and adjoining owners when undertaking construction work that affects party walls or shared structures. Section 8, outlining the rights of entry, is a crucial component of this legislation, ensuring that necessary access to adjoining properties is obtained with due consideration for the rights and concerns of the neighbours.

By following the procedures set out in Section 8, both building owners and adjoining owners can work together to reach mutually agreeable terms and minimise disputes, fostering a spirit of cooperation and understanding while maintaining the integrity of the built environment. It is essential for all involved parties to be aware of their rights and responsibilities under this Act to ensure that building projects proceed smoothly and in compliance with the law.

To find out more about understanding the Rights of Entry under the Party Wall act and much more, dive into our latest blogs to get the lowdown on party walls. Whether you’re dealing with construction or legal stuff, we’ve got you covered.

For even more insights and updates, explore our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Stay connected with us for the latest in all things party wall related!

Certified Chartered Surveyors You Can Trust


Served a Party Wall Notice

Free Party Wall Notice Generator

Chris BeltonBy Chris Belton|September 29, 2023|In Party Wall Advice

Introducing Our Free Party Wall Notice Generator

Are you planning construction or renovation work that involves a party wall? If so, you’re likely aware of the importance of notifying your neighbours in compliance with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Navigating the legalities of this process can be quite a challenge, but Archway Party Walls is here to make it easier for you. We are delighted to introduce our brand-new Party Wall Notice Generator, a powerful tool designed to simplify the notice creation process, ensuring your project gets off to a smooth start.

What is a Party Wall Notice?

Before we dive into the details of our notice generator, let’s briefly recap the importance of a Party Wall Notice. Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, anyone planning specific construction or excavation work near a party wall, boundary, or line of junction is legally required to serve notice to their neighbouring property owners. This notice informs them about the upcoming work and their rights under the Act.

Failure to serve a proper Party Wall Notice can result in costly delays, disputes, and legal complications down the road. That’s where our Party Wall Notice Generator steps in.

Introducing the Party Wall Notice Generator

Our Party Wall Notice Generator is a free, user-friendly online tool designed to help you create fully compliant party structure notices, adjacent excavation notices, and line of junction notices in a matter of minutes.

Why Use Our Generator?

Instant and Convenient: Our notice generator streamlines the process, allowing you to enter a few essential details, and within moments, you’ll have professionally formatted PDF notices ready for download. No more waiting or paying for third-party services.

Compliant and Reliable: We understand the intricacies of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, and our generator is meticulously designed to ensure your notices are fully compliant with the legislation.

User-Friendly: You don’t need to be a legal expert to use our generator. It’s simple, intuitive, and suitable for both homeowners and professionals alike.

Cost-Effective: Our generator is completely free to use. We believe in making the Party Wall Notice process as accessible and stress-free as possible.

How to Use Our Party Wall Notice Generator

Visit our the Party Wall Notice Generator page.

Enter the necessary project details, such as your name, address, project description, and the affected neighbouring properties.

Click the “Generate Notices” button.

Your professionally drafted notices will then be ready for download instantly.

Conclusion

At Archway Party Walls, we understand that navigating the legal requirements of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve developed our Party Wall Notice Generator – to make the process simpler, quicker, and more accessible for you. Whether you’re a homeowner planning a renovation or a professional in the construction industry, our free generator is here to help.

To get started, visitor our party wall generator at the following link: https://partywallsurveyor-london.uk/party-wall-notice-creator/.

why not dive into our latest blogs to get the lowdown on party walls. Whether you’re dealing with construction or legal stuff, we’ve got you covered.

For even more insights and updates, explore our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Stay connected with us for the latest in all things party wall related!

Visit our notice generator

Certified Chartered Surveyors You Can Trust


Party Wall Enclosure Costs

Understanding Party Wall Enclosure Costs - A Simple Guide

Chris BeltonBy Chris Belton|September 1, 2023|In Party Wall Advice

The Party Wall Act can take people by surprise when they discover they need to pay their neighbour for using existing structures. These payments are known as “enclosure costs.” In this straightforward guide, we’ll explain what enclosure costs are all about, when they apply, and how they are calculated.

Introduction

Section 11(11) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 introduces the concept of ‘enclosure costs.’ These are payments that a building owner must make to their neighbour when they plan to use work that was previously done at the neighbour’s expense. Two common examples where they will likely apply include:

  1. When you want to build an extension and enclose on an existing wall built by the neighbour to become part of the new extension’s structure.
  2. When you want to create a loft conversion and will subsequently make use of a wall that was raised by your neighbour when they carried out their own loft conversion.

Party Wall Enclosure Costs

How are enclosed costs claculated

When a building owner utilises construction work that their neighbour previously paid for, they must pay a fair share of the costs for the work they’re subsequently making use of. Typically, this is half of what it would cost to build the wall today. For instance, if a wall cost Β£100 to build in 1900 and would cost Β£10,000 today, the building owner owes the neighbour Β£5,000 for making use of the wall. This calculation considers current construction costs and includes materials, labour, fees, and any other relevant expenses.

Who is entitled to receive payment for enclosure costs?

It’s essential to note that the current adjoining owner is entitled to payment, regardless of when the wall was originally built. This remains true even if the current owner had no part in the wall’s construction or funding.

How are enclosure costs paid?

Surveyors appointed for the project will calculate the payment amount, which will be detailed in a party wall award. The building owner must then directly compensate the adjoining owner for this established sum. Typically, payment is made via bank transfer, although specific preferences will be confirmed by the adjoining owner. Payment is usually due when the wall is enclosed upon, but the timing can be determined differently by the surveyors and will be specified in the award.

Conclusion

Enclosure costs can be a complex and potentially contentious aspect of the Party Wall Act. It’s crucial to rely on experienced party wall surveyors for accurate calculations and guidance. At Archway Party Wall Surveyors, we specialise in handling enclosure costs and can provide expert advice and representation to help resolve such matters.

If you are undertaking works which may involve the Party Wall Act, why not contact Archway Party Walls for free impartial advice.

Certified Chartered Surveyors You Can Trust


Party Wall Notice Creator

Appealing a party wall award

Your Guide to the Appeal Process

Before describing briefly how to lodge an appeal, it is important to understand what you are getting into. An appeal is an expensive piece of litigation. You need deep pockets, even if your appeal is successful – or at least good legal cover insurance.

Nicholas Isaac QC, a barrister specialising in party wall matters, estimates that it costs between Β£16,500 and Β£33,000 to WIN an appeal of a party wall award. The high cost of challenging perceived unfair behaviour is prohibitive and perhaps the biggest reason why litigation is avoided.

Members of the public are broadly unfamiliar with the party wall act and seek the guidance of specialist party wall surveyors to ensure matters are handled correctly. When presented with a letter of appointment, a building owner will often sign it, believing that this is standard procedure – which indeed it is. What people do not realise however, and party wall surveyors are included in this, is that a letter of appointment should only be signed if there is a dispute.

Building owners wishing to undertake work in pursuance of the party wall act should engage with a party wall surveyor at an early stage. Far too often, engagement happens too late, and this causes avoidable stress to all parties involved. Signing a letter of appointment nice and early can seem like a sensible and necessary thing to do, but there are some flaws that must not be ignored.

Firstly, you only need to sign a letter of appointment if there is a dispute. A dispute follows the serving of a party wall notice, where the neighbour either dissents to the work, or does not respond. The Party Wall Act is clear when a letter of appointment is required, it refers to it in sections 10(1)(a) and (b) of the Act, β€˜where a dispute arises or is deemed to have arisen’ both parties shall appoint either one surveyor (the agreed surveyor) or their own surveyors. Section 10(4) requires the appointment to be in writing. The act is generally triggered by serving a notice (save for sections 3(3)(a) and (b), and there are no requirements made by the Act for surveyors to be appointed. Indeed, many building owners choose to serve their own notices.

How a neighbour / adjoining owner responds to a notice determines whether a surveyor needs to be appointed. If a neighbour consents, then there is simply no need to appoint a surveyor, and work can start. If a dispute does arise, (for example, a disagreement over damage), a surveyor can be appointed to adjudicate and serve an award. Alternatively, a neighbour can dissent and appoint a surveyor, in which case an award is served settling the β€˜dispute’. A neighbour may be perfectly happy for the building owner to use the same surveyor as the one the neighbour has picked – this is known as the β€˜agreed surveyor’ route. This saves the building owner having to pay his own surveyor’s fees. However, if the building owner has already appointed a surveyor, then more often than not, the agreed surveyor opportunity is lost, and either from lack of knowledge, or misrepresentation, the building owner has to pay two sets of surveyor’s fees. This is unacceptable.

To find out more about Appealing a party wall award and much more, dive into our latest blogs to get the lowdown on party walls. Whether you’re dealing with construction or legal stuff, we’ve got you covered.

For even more insights and updates, explore our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Stay connected with us for the latest in all things party wall related!

Certified Chartered Surveyors You Can Trust


Served a Party Wall Notice

Why you shouldn't sign a party wall letter of appointment too early

A letter of appointment has many flaws, and this article does not seek to critique common templates. The aim is to look at the timing, rather than the content of these letters. It is our view that these letters are nearly always signed far too early, and this can have some negative consequences.

Members of the public are broadly unfamiliar with the party wall act and seek the guidance of specialist party wall surveyors to ensure matters are handled correctly. When presented with a letter of appointment, a building owner will often sign it, believing that this is standard procedure – which indeed it is. What people do not realise however, and party wall surveyors are included in this, is that a letter of appointment should only be signed if there is a dispute.

Building owners wishing to undertake work in pursuance of the party wall act should engage with a party wall surveyor at an early stage. Far too often, engagement happens too late, and this causes avoidable stress to all parties involved. Signing a letter of appointment nice and early can seem like a sensible and necessary thing to do, but there are some flaws that must not be ignored.

What is a Party Wall Survey

Firstly, you only need to sign a letter of appointment if there is a dispute. A dispute follows the serving of a party wall notice, where the neighbour either dissents to the work, or does not respond. The Party Wall Act is clear when a letter of appointment is required, it refers to it in sections 10(1)(a) and (b) of the Act, β€˜where a dispute arises or is deemed to have arisen’ both parties shall appoint either one surveyor (the agreed surveyor) or their own surveyors. Section 10(4) requires the appointment to be in writing. The act is generally triggered by serving a notice (save for sections 3(3)(a) and (b), and there are no requirements made by the Act for surveyors to be appointed. Indeed, many building owners choose to serve their own notices.

How a neighbour / adjoining owner responds to a notice determines whether a surveyor needs to be appointed. If a neighbour consents, then there is simply no need to appoint a surveyor, and work can start. If a dispute does arise, (for example, a disagreement over damage), a surveyor can be appointed to adjudicate and serve an award. Alternatively, a neighbour can dissent and appoint a surveyor, in which case an award is served settling the β€˜dispute’. A neighbour may be perfectly happy for the building owner to use the same surveyor as the one the neighbour has picked – this is known as the β€˜agreed surveyor’ route. This saves the building owner having to pay his own surveyor’s fees. However, if the building owner has already appointed a surveyor, then more often than not, the agreed surveyor opportunity is lost, and either from lack of knowledge, or misrepresentation, the building owner has to pay two sets of surveyor’s fees. This is unacceptable.

Many surveyors claim that if their appointing owner asked them to, they would step aside to facilitate the agreed surveyor route. This may seem noble, but two points are made:

1. An appointment cannot be rescinded. The building owner is relying on his surveyor’s discretion to β€˜deem himself incapable of acting’. If a surveyor wished to keep the appointment, he would be perfectly entitled to. If the building owner had not signed the letter of appointment too early, the whole scenario would be different. The building owner would be free to liaise with his neighbour and his neighbour’s surveyor, and would be free to appoint the neighbour’s surveyor to act as the β€˜agreed surveyor’. This would not require the building owner’s surveyor’s permission, since he would not have been appointed.

2. The two-surveyor set-up is encouraged by poor notice templates and the early signing of a letter of appointment. The notice templates often state β€˜in the event of a dispute I will appoint (insert name)’. This is steering parties away from the agreed surveyor, and furthermore, if the building owner has already signed a letter of appointment, it already looks to the neighbour that the agreed surveyor route is not workable. Party wall surveyors do tend to work in a way that generates and safeguards their fees. Two-surveyor appointments are ideal, as the industry can literally double its money. The main point is that parties involved turn a blind eye to the agreed surveyor route, and the signing of a letter of appointment nice and early makes the avoidance of the agreed surveyor route feel more natural. If surveyors only asked for their appointment letters when a dispute materialised, and if they gave honest advice, options would be kept open and the uptake of agreed surveyors would increase, saving the building owner money.

Another example of appointment letters being signed too early includes those sent out by the ambulance chasers. The ambulance chasers look for work by using mailing companies who send letters out to the neighbours of any person who has submitted a planning application. Neighbours are often surprised and concerned, and sign a letter of appointment straightaway β€˜to protect their interests’. This is another example of a choice being made too early. A dispute cannot materialise until the building owner serves a notice (or starts work in pursuance of the Act). Any appointment prior to this is likely to be invalid. Regardless, by choosing an ambulance chaser, the neighbour has lost the opportunity to choose a surveyor of his choice, or indeed the opportunity to use the building owner’s surveyor. Panic and urgency drive people to signing these letters, and it ultimately generates money for an industry that does not wish to seriously police itself.

To find out more about Why you shouldn’t sign a party wall letter of appointment too early and much more, dive into our latest blogs to get the lowdown on party walls. Whether you’re dealing with construction or legal stuff, we’ve got you covered.

For even more insights and updates, explore our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Stay connected with us for the latest in all things party wall related!

Certified Chartered Surveyors You Can Trust


Party Wall Act Guidance

How to invoke the act and can surveyors determine that it doesn't apply

The key points to take away are:

1. The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is invoked by serving a notice.

2. If the Act is found not to apply, matters can be closed amicably.

3. If matters cannot be closed amicably, a party wall award is required to settle the dispute. It should record that the surveyors have determined that the Act does not apply, as they are entitled to do so under Section 10(12)(a). The surveyors are also entitled to settle a fee dispute under section 10(12)(c).

4. Surveyors must understand their responsibility. Too often, parties are let down by incorrect advice and uncertainty. Surveyors must understand their jurisdiction. If a notice is exploratory, a surveyor must advise his appointing owner of the possibility of a dispute arising which may be settled by way of an award. This award can determine whether the work is in pursuance of the Act, and how the costs of making the award should be settled.

The Act is invoked when a building owner, desirous of exercising rights under the Act, serves a notice upon an adjoining owner. It is dangerous for surveyors not to understand the limits of their jurisdiction, and it is equally dangerous if surveyors are not aware of their responsibilities.

When learning about the Party Wall Act, many surveyors will remember a catchy phrase which is β€˜no notice, no Act’

Surveyors have questioned whether this is correct. For example, under section 3(3)(a) if an adjoining owner gives written consent, then the building owner is not required to serve a notice:

(3) Nothing in this section shallβ€”

(a) prevent a building owner from exercising with the consent in writing of the adjoining owners and of the adjoining occupiers any right conferred on him by section 2.

Sections 3(3)(a) and (b) are the only two sections of the Act where the rule of β€˜no notice no Act’ can be said not to apply. These are the exemption clauses. 3(3)(b) relates to dangerous structures, where serving a notice takes a backseat to the safety of people and property.

The question of β€˜no notice no Act’ was specifically posed in Shah v Kyson. Surveyors waited with great interest, and it is completely understandable why many people feel that the Act should be able to be invoked through other means. Put simply, why should an adjoining owner be disadvantaged and locked out of the party wall act, just because the building owner has neglected or refused to serve a notice?

Also, section 10 which is often referred to as β€˜the engine of the Act’ opens with:

Where a dispute arises or is deemed to have arisen between a building owner and an adjoining owner in respect of any matter connected with any work to which this Act relates.

Some surveyors have said that section 10 can stand alone, and that if there is a dispute relating to work to which the Act applies, there exists the jurisdiction for surveyors to settle it. There is the idea that a building owner is a β€˜building owner’ within the meaning of the Act, not because a notice has been served, but because as per section 20 of the Act, a building owner is defined as β€˜an owner of land who is desirous of exercising rights under this Act’. A notice is necessary for the building owner to signal this intention.

There have been examples whereby a building owner has not served a notice, and so surveyors have used a unique solution which is to invoke the act by serving a ten-day request under section 10(4):

(4) If either party to the disputeβ€”

(a) refuses to appoint a surveyor under subsection (1)(b), or

(b) neglects to appoint a surveyor under subsection (1)(b) for a period of ten days beginning with the day on which the other party serves a request on him, the other party may make the appointment on his behalf.

This section has been used (or misused) to force the building owner to engage with the Act. As per section 10(4), the surveyors are creating an environment to force the building owner to comply with and acknowledge the party wall act. This tactic is designed to replace getting an injunction and is quite a good way of trying to invoke the party wall act to ensure the fair protection of all parties involved. Injunctions can be costly, and the onus is on the adjoining owner to initiate litigation. The adjoining owner is likely to lose money, as even if the injunction stops the work and forces the building owner to comply with the Act by serving a notice, the surveyors do not have jurisdiction to award fees in favour of the adjoining owner, see Blake v Reeves [2010].

It is understandable that people would like for the Act to be invoked by jumping straight to section 10. This acts as a safety mechanism and may reduce the likelihood of litigation. However, there are concerns that if the Act could be invoked by sending a ten-day request, this could lead to unintended consequences, with unscrupulous surveyors appointing each other to settle disputes whilst awarding themselves high fees to do so.

The law may not always seem fair, and in the case of an adjoining owner having to take out an expensive injunction to ensure the building owner invokes the party wall act, it will certainly seem so. However, wanting the law to achieve something is not enough, there must be a sound legal basis to proceed by invoking the Act via a ten-day request under section 10(4).

Shah v Kyson, referred to earlier in this article, was appealed, and it was found that the mantra of β€˜no notice, no Act’ was indeed correct.

What happens if a building owner serves a notice, and it later transpires that the notice was not required? This does happen from time to time and can cause a lot of friction between parties. If a notice is withdrawn quickly, or it is found that the work identified in the notice is not in pursuance of the Act, surveyors often take a pragmatic view. This can include simply waiving any fees for minimal time incurred or submitting an invoice for settlement by the building owner which everyone agrees is reasonable and fair. Sometime though, the adjoining owner’s surveyor may wish to charge more than what the building owner is willing to pay. Also, the adjoining owner may have visited site, reviewed drawings, and commented on a draft award. This is significant work.

Many surveyors will argue that if a notice is served and it is established the work was not in pursuance of the Act, that the surveyors will not have jurisdiction to award fees. This is because, they argue, that if the work is not in pursuance of the Act, it cannot have been a notice that was served under the Act – at the very least, not a valid notice.

This would seem to ignore section 10(12)(a) which makes it clear that a surveyor’s jurisdiction is to:

10(12) determineβ€”

(a) the right to execute any work;

(b) the time and manner of executing any work; and

(c) any other matter arising out of or incidental to the dispute including the costs of making the award;

One of the first things a surveyor should be doing, is identifying whether the party wall act applies. It may not be obvious as to whether the Act applies, and to get a clear understanding, many building owners choose to engage with a party wall surveyor to serve a notice on their behalf as an agent. Contrary to popular belief, a surveyor is not appointed until there is a dispute under the Act. Even a surveyor may be unsure. Apart from requiring professional input to determine whether a notice is needed, a building owner may have to make some assumptions that might later be found to be incorrect. To exercise a right under section 6, for example, means the building owner is excavating to a level lower than the adjoining owner’s foundations. A notice may be served speculatively on the basis that it is safer to serve a notice, than not to. The building owner may wish to avoid the risk of being on the receiving end of an injunction, which could bring work to a stop and incur some hefty costs.

Surveyors have the right to determine that the Act does not apply. There is the argument that if this is the determination made, then the Act falls away, and in fact never applied in the first place. A notice that turns out to be incorrect, is no notice at all, they will argue. This can leave all parties involved in an awkward position. If this situation does arise, most parties will resolve matters amicably, including the settlement of any fees. However, where there is a dispute, it is vital that surveyors understand that the Act does still apply, and the surveyors can determine that the right to execute work in pursuance of the Act does not exist. This does not invalidate the initial notice which invoked the Act and gives surveyors the right to determine whether or not the Act applies as per section 10(12)(a). Section 10(12)(c) specifically refers to the determination of costs of making an award, so we know that we can have an award that determines:

10(12)(a) That the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 does not apply.

10(12)(c) That fees are to be settled in a way determined by the surveyors (generally, the building owner will be expected to settle fees).

On the face of it, the award should be straightforward and give closure to all involved in the abortive process. There can be complications, and this can be where an adjoining owner’s surveyor’s fees are contested. It is not uncommon for surveyors to waiver fees if the process is aborted prior to a site inspection. Where a site inspection is undertaken, an adjoining owner’s surveyor is less likely to simply write off the fee. There can be disagreements as to whether the adjoining owner’s surveyor’s fee is reasonable, and if matters cannot be resolved amicably, the two surveyors will need to serve an award determining the fees. If they cannot come to agreement, the matter will be referred to the third surveyor who will impartially settle the matter.

To find out more about how to invoke the act and can surveyors determine that it doesn’t apply and much more, dive into our latest blogs to get the lowdown on party walls. Whether you’re dealing with construction or legal stuff, we’ve got you covered.

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