Q. My rather pushy neighbour has just served me a notice under the Party Wall Act.
My neighbour wants to build an extension and convert his loft, can his builder friend undertake the initial survey of my property?
We have just received a party wall notice from our neighbour which is inviting us to consent and telling us he wants his builder to come and inspect our property and conduct a ‘Schedule of Condition Survey’.
We live in a mid-terraced property in London and whilst we have no objection to the neighbour’s plans, we want to make sure our property is not damaged during the process.
Also, I’m sure hasn't employed a cowboy builder but surely this any survey should be done by an independent and neutral surveyor?
Party Wall Surveyor Answer
The Act places a legal obligation on the building owner, when a building owner is proposing to undertake building work that is likely to impact a neighbouring property, such as work to a party wall, therefore your neighbour has taken the correct step to first serve you with a Party Wall Notice.
As the adjoining owner, you have the option to consent or dissent to the intended works.
If you consent to the works, then no further action is required although it is good practise and recommended that a pre-construction survey is undertaken otherwise known as the 'Schedule of Condition'.
This appears to be the route your neighbour is inviting you to agree with.
If you dissent or if you are in any doubt, you have a number of alternative options to consider and should speak with a 'Party Wall Surveyor' to explore these.
TK Surveying Group offer FREE initial advice and guidance and as well as a number of free publications for homeowners to find out more about the party wall process.
If you do nothing for 14 days, then you have defaulted into dissent.
You will then need to consider whether you wish to appoint your own surveyor or agree to appoint a joint surveyor known as an ‘Agreed Surveyor’.
The appointed party wall surveyor(s) will then resolve any disputes and draw up an agreement known as a 'Party Wall Award’ which sets out the legal rights and obligations of both parties in regard to the proposed works.
The Party Wall Award in most cases is accompanied by a ‘Schedule of Condition’ which as you rightly mention should ideally be undertaken by an impartial and suitably qualified professional.
At TK Surveying Group for example our Party Wall Surveyors often use moisture meters to check and record level of dampness in walls and timber offering a more in depth and accurate Schedule of Condition.
In most cases the person carrying out the works is required to meet the cost of the surveyor(s) as they are benefiting from the work.
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Please note these answers provide a brief commentary as to the issues raised and should not be relied on, as such, no liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a suitably qualified party wall surveyor.