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The Party Wall Act

The Act sets out certain procedures whereby the person or persons proposing to carry out the works, the “Building Owner” is required by law to “serve notice” on his neighbours, “the Adjoining Owner”, who may be affected by the works.

The Adjoining Owner may consent to the works, at which point the Building Owner has discharged his duties under the Act, and may proceed.

The Adjoining Owner may also “dissent”. This means simply that the adjoining owner would like representation prior to works commencing, either via a surveyor of his or her choosing, or they may use the Building Owners surveyor,  the “Agreed Surveyor”. This is quite normal practice. By dissenting the adjoining owner is not against the works proceeding but is availing themselves of the services of a surveyor with the eventual intention of entering into an “Award” with the Building Owner. This is a legal document which sets out the rights and roles of both parties and would usually include drawings and any other relevant information showing clearly the works that fall under the Act. It would also usually include a schedule of condition of the parts of the Adjoining Owners property that could be affected by the works. The surveyors fees for carrying out this are met by the Building Owner.

The intention of carrying out all of the above is to try to prevent any future dispute between neighbours once works have started, particularly regarding access for the works, a perceived variation of what was going to be built, or any claim that damage has been caused by the works.

By “ invoking” the Act, the Building Owner, amongst other things is,
under certain parameters, able to:

·  Build up to the boundary between properties and have access via a
   neighbouring property to carry out the works;

·  Raise or rebuild a party wall or structure;

·  Cut into the party wall or an adjoining owners structure built up to the
   boundary for the purpose of inserting something such as a new flashing;

·  Excavate foundations within 3 metres of a neighbouring property and to
    a level lower than the existing foundations

It follows therefore that the Act is a powerful piece of legislation, and if used correctly, may mutually benefit both parties.

The Chartered Institute of BuildingFaculty of Party Wall Surveyors