Serving a party wall notice

You should discuss the work you're planning on carrying out with your neighbours (a.k.a the adjoining owners) before you serve a party wall notice.

If you've already discussed the rough idea with your neighbours then you'll have a better idea of how they'll react, and you can allay each of their concerns appropriately.

If you're not confident doing this, then these discussions can be had with your neighbours through an appointed surveyor (if you wish) though this is purely optional at this stage.

Serving notice should not come as a surprise to your neighbour.

What to include in your party wall notice:

A party wall notice needs to include the following items:

  1. Your name and address
  2. The names and addresses of all adjoining owners (i.e. those who jointly own the party wall affected by your work) 
  3. The address of the building to be worked on
  4. A thorough and detailed explanation of what you propose to do including plans preferably. note: If you're planning excavation works, then you'll need to provide plans with your notice.
  5. The date you plan on beginning the work. note: this must be more than 2 months after the date you serve your notice.
  6. A reference to the Party Wall Act 1996, and that you're acting under the provisions of the act.

How to serve party wall notice

You can serve the notice in the following ways:

  • By email (if you have their email address and they've told you that they would be happy to receive a party wall notice by email)
  • In writing, named, addressed and delivered in person
  • In writing, named, addressed and delivered by pos
  • if you don't know the name and address of the owner (i.e. your neighbours are renting) then you'll need to address the letter to 'The Owner' and hand it to the tenant instead.
  • If the property is empty, then you can address the letter to 'The Owner' and attach it to an obvious part of the property.

Why you need to serve party wall notice

The below is an extract from the Party Wall Act 1996 explanatory pdf booklet.

Anyone intending to carry out work [to a party wall] in England and Wales must give Adjoining Owners notice of their intentions.
Where the intended work is to an existing party wall (section 2 of the Act) a notice must be given even where the work will not extend beyond the centre line of a party wall
Note: A party wall may not necessarily have a boundary running through its centre line for the whole of its length but for only part of its length.
It is often helpful in understanding the principles of the Act if owners think of themselves as joint owners of the whole of a party wall rather than the sole owner of half or part of it.

If you have not received written consent from the adjoining owner(s) 14 days after serving a party wall notice then you should get a surveyor involved as it is considered a party wall dispute.

If you are in this position, contact us today and we can help you out.

Note: a party wall notice expires after a year, so don't serve it that far ahead of when you'd like to start!

What happens after you serve notice?

Adjoining owners can do one of four things:

  1. Give consent in writing (by mail / email)
  2. Refuse consent (which moves us towards dispute resolution)
  3. Serve a counter-notice including works they'd like completed for their own benefit.
  4. Nothing

If neither 1 or 2, has come to pass 14 days after you served notice, then we're in dispute resolution territory again. 

If your neighbour plans on serving a counter-notice, then they should let you know within 14 days after you served notice, and they must provide their counter notice within 1 month of your notice.

Unless a counter-notice is served, the building owner will pay all costs associated with drawing up the party wall award, usually.

That being said, if the work is due to material defects or required repairs then the adjoining owner may be liable for some costs. The rule of thumb would be to plan for the costs to be split based on the proportional use of the structure concerned.

The surveyor will usually decide who pays the fees. If you'd like a breakdown of any fees you feel are unreasonable, then the Act gives you the right to ask for a breakdown of costs including an hourly rate, and the number of hours being charged for.

For minor work

If you serve notice for minor work and have stated that your work will be carried out subject to the Building Regulations, then your neighbour (the 'adjoining owner') may consenting only if you'll carry out a 'Schedule of Condition' on their property.

This isn't just a disadvantage for you though, as this protects you from spurious damages claims after the work has been completed, and the adjoining owner 'notices' a crack or other damage that they swear was never there before the work began. 

It is the most important tool used to establish if your work has caused any damage.

If your neighbour consents to your notice, they will be protected by the Party Wall Act. 

If following an agreement any dispute arises, due to work you've carried out, then the 'adjoining owner' can appoint a surveyor and their surveyor (and your surveyor if applicable) can still resolve the matter by a Party Wall Award.

If your neighbour is carrying out work and has served you with a party wall notice, then you can still consent and be covered under the party wall act!

Contact a surveyor

We can assist you with any and all party wall issues you may be experiencing, whether building owner or neighbour, Metcalfe Briggs Chartered Building Surveyors have got you covered. Contact us today for some instant bespoke advice.