So you’re getting ready to transform your home. You’ve done everything right so far. You’ve obtained planning permission. You’ve been given approval by building control. Heck, you might have even secured you ideal contractor. But then everything seems to take a tumble when you’re neighbour doesn’t given party wall consent. What now?
According to the Party Wall Act, all homeowners building on either a shared wall, building, or boundary must give written notice of their intentions before construction commences. If the neighbour gives approval within 14 days of the notice being served, you can go ahead as planned. However, if approval isn’t given then you’ll need arrange a Party Wall Agreement.
This new housing challenge can throw many homeowners for a loop. So to make sure you don’t get lost in this neighbourly dual, here’s what you can expect...
Appoint a surveyor
Once you know a party wall agreement will be required, you’ll need to find yourself a surveyor. Fun fact: a party wall surveyor can literally be anyone who isn’t the affected homeowners. Your postman, a librarian, just a good guy you meet on the street. All could legally become your appointed surveyor.
Of course, your best bet for a surveyor is to find a professional who has plenty of experience dealing with this act. The could either be a professional surveyor, your architect, an engineer, or solicitor.
Now this surveyor can act on both on yours and your neighbour’s behalf, and become what is known as an ‘agreed surveyor’. This works out cheaper for you, as all surveyor fees must be covered by the party insticating the work. However, your neighbour might not want to share a professional.
Appoint a second surveyor
If your neighbour doesn’t approve of your choice of surveyor, or wants their own for the process, you’ll need to find a second surveyor. Again, the costs of this will be on you to pay, so prepare to get your checkbook out.
Typically, a surveyor can charge £100-£140 per hour for their services. Depending where in the UK you are based. At the top end, London homeowners can expect a bill of around £700 per surveyor, but this can jump to £1500+ for more complex projects, such as basement conversions.
Documenting the state of a party wall
The most time intensive part of setting up a party wall agreement will be the appointed surveyors documenting the state of the affected shared area. This will involve taking photographs, to make sure that any damage claims could be backed up with evidence. This protects both parties.
What work should happen
The next concern for the agreement will be establishing what work should happen to either the wall, boundary, or shared building. This can be a major point of contention to both parties, but your neighbour will have to provide substantial reasons to deny the work - more than just a simple ‘I don’t like it’.
Who pays for what?
As we’ve discussed, all surveyor fees will need to come out of your pocket. However, your neighbour will have to share costs if work to the party wall is required that’s due to defects or lack of repair. They will also need to chip in for any additional work that is done for their benefit.
If you can’t agree on costs between you, then this can be managed by your appointed surveyor.
How and when the work will be carried out
Your last consideration will be how the work is carried out. This typically refers to the length of time it’ll take for the work to be completed, as well as what hours your contractors will be permitted to work on site. Construction isn’t a quiet pass time, so it’s reasonable for your neighbours not to endure drilling at unsociable hours.
Appointing a third surveyor
Yes, you read that right, you might need another surveyor.
If while making your agreement you find neither parties and their surveyors can reach an accord, a third surveyor can come in to resolve this with your two seperate professionals, until an agreement has been reached.
It’s worth noting, that all surveyors work independently and should never put the whims of one homeowner over another. Even if you’re the one footing the bill.
If someone doesn’t agree with the award
If a party wall agreement is awarded, but either yourself or your neighbours don’t like the conditions, you can make an appeal with the County Court within 14 days of the agreement being published. It’s worth remembering that appeals focus on points of laws, so if your contention is related to something you just don’t like, you’re unlikely to get very far with the process. They’re also a terribly expense undertaking, so its worth talking to a lawyer beforehand, so you don’t rush in too hastily.