Party Wall: Obtaining Consent From Neighbours.
As a building owner if you intend to renovate or extend your property you have a legal requirement to first serve any adjoining owner a Party Wall Notice prior to commencing, for work which falls within the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (1996 Act).
Once a Party Wall Notice has been served the adjoining owner has the legal right to consent, or dissent to the Party Wall Notice.
Whilst many projects certainly benefit from having Party Wall Surveyor involvement, for those less intrusive projects obtaining consent is sometimes a viable and efficient option.
This article takes a look at some practical tips for building owners wishing to obtain Party Wall consent.
Informing your neighbour
In the first instance, the building owner must serve their neighbour/s with a formal Notice
Your neighbours are not required to provide an imminent response and if they so choose may opt to dissent if they don't quite understand the technical aspects and likely impact of the your proposed work, at this point a surveyor or surveyors must be appointed, the cost of which is normally borne by the building owner as they are benefiting from the proposed works.
Things to Consider BEFORE sending a Party Wall Notice
1) Have a chat
We live busy and frantic lives, work long and hard to maintain our homes and look after our families....the next thing, a formal notice is received through the letter box informing them that you wish to knock out a shared chimney breast or excavate close to the property...'OMG'...... is a phrase that springs to mind.
'Too busy'..... after 14 days of no reply the formal process automatically kicks in
'Too formal, too complex, too worried'.....your neighbour contacts a party wall surveyor for further clarification.
Let your neighbour know in good time if you're intending to undertake notifiable work, ideally it can help alleviate concerns associated with having a Party Wall Notice sprung on them, and it also gives them enough time to further research and better the particulars of your proposed project.
It's good to talk. Your neighbours are more likely to offer written consent if they are well informed and if you take on board their concerns.
2) Offer to have a Schedule of Condition done
You can reassure your neighbour by offering to have a Schedule of Condition undertaken of their property prior to commencement of work. The Schedule of Condition, a standalone report which documents the condition of your neighbours property likely to be affected by the works, which then acts as evidence offering a barometer for repairs should the unfortunate occur.
Was that crack there before? The schedule of condition is beneficial for both parties, the adjoining owner is assured their property has been assessed by a surveyor and the condition accurately recorded, likewise the building owner avoids spurious claims of damage which may be very difficult to defend without such evidence.
3) Provide drawings & plans Whilst your not obliged to provide drawings and plans (in most instances) with your Notice, we highly recommend that your offer some drawings and plans attached with your Notice in order to provide a visual aid. Your neighbour is less likely to consent to your Notice if they're unable to comprehend the likely impact of your proposal and whilst technical jargon may be completely alien visual concepts require no words.
Think scope, scale, locality and proximity of works. If your neighbour can visualise and better understand the nature of the project they are more likely to consider offering consent than if left in the dark.
4) Hire a Party Wall Surveyor....to obtain consent?
So why would you hire a party wall surveyor if you're seeking to obtain consent?
a) Party Wall Notices are legal instruments and whilst there are a number of templates and guidelines available on the internet any errors or omission can invalidate the Notice and put a hold on proceedings which can cause costly and delay.
b) Your're too busy or the project is complex and beyond your sphere of expertise appointing a surveyor (as agent/consultant) will allow for any questions or concerns raised by neighbour/s to be addressed efficiently.
c) Your neighbour knows that you are taking your legal duty seriously and is more likely to feel confident that you will address and or rectify any issues that may subsequently arise during the course of construction.
Hiring a competent party wall practitioner from the offset will not only increase the likelihood of obtaining consent, but also more likely to result in a joint (Agreed) Surveyor appointment if consent is not given saving you additional surveyor fees.
Don't leave it to the last minute.com!
It's important that you consider the implications of the Party Wall Act well in advance of works.
Getting your Notice in at the earliest convenience is imperative, this allows any issues that may arise to be dealt with well in advance of works. A Party Wall Notice can be served 12 months in advance of works.
Don't expect your neighbour to offer their written consent instantly and rightly so, they will need to make an informed choice as to their options and familiarise themselves with the Party Wall Act and may wish to seek professional advice to ensure their interests are being taken into consideration and safeguarded.
It's worth noting that some Awards can take months to resolve, especially for more complex work, early engagement is crucial to ensure that you are well prepared in the event of a dissent to proceedings.
If you have any questions or wish to talk about your project with a friendly party wall consultant get in touch today - Click here to leave you details or feel free to email directly on Info@tksurveyinggroup.co.uk or call one of our friendly consultants on 0208 243 8981
Click on the booklet for further guidance on Party Wall Notices
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