Have you received a Party Wall Notice?
The Act requires that Notice be served for certain works which have the potential to affect your property.
Notices can be worded in different ways but you now have three options:
- Dissent (dispute) and appoint a joint Agreed Surveyor.
- Dissent (dispute) and appoint your own Surveyor.
But there is no planning permission!
This is not unusual. The Party Wall process is entirely separate to the planning process.
Many people apply for planning and start the Party Wall process in parallel to reduce the time it takes to start work. Therefore, it is possible to have a Party Wall Award in place and planning to be subsequently refused.
Nonetheless the proposed works cannot take place lawfully without both planning permission and the Party Wall process complete for the elements of the works that fall under the Act.
If you have concerns over planning issues then you should contact the planning department or possibly consider instructing a planning specialist.
The meaning of dissenting
Dissenting is the wording used by the Act. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, it does not necessary mean that you are against the proposed works.
It also does not mean that dissenting can or will prevent the works from taking place.
In most cases, dissenting is effectively stating that you have concerns about the detailing of the works, their structural impact on your property or the manner in which the works will be undertaken by the contractor.
You would therefore like a Surveyor to review and agree the details by making a Party Wall Award before the works can start.
The benefit of appointing a surveyor?
The role of the Surveyor(s) is to check the Building Owner’s proposals and ensure that the risk of damage is minimised. Disturbance and inconvenience from works falling under the Act should also be kept to a minimum.
The Surveyor(s) will check that the proposed design complies with the Act which usually means that it does not compromise your right to undertake similar works in the future.
Some examples set out below:
- Protective boarding to be applied to your roof while it is accessed for a loft conversion.
- Hoarding or fencing to be erected on your land to keep your property secure.
- The trimming back or temporary relocation of plants running along an affected boundary.
- Method of working with any tree roots adjacent to excavations.
- Specific sequence of excavations if there is a risk of undermining your foundations.
- CCTV survey of any underground services adjacent to excavations.
- The sealing of your fireplaces during heavy works next door to prevent soot soiling.
- Safety tests to any gas flues which may be affected by the works.
- The provision of a Programme of Works.
- Restriction of working hours for certain elements of the works.
- Location and design of scaffolding.
- Any contribution payable under the Act.
- Security sum deposit to cover certain risks to your property.
For more complex projects, a surveyor can appoint a structural engineer to provide independent advice on the proposed works.
Reasons for dissentingIf your concerns relate to potential damage to your property, access to your property, the duration of such access or to the proposed detailing affecting your future ability to undertake similar works then you may wish to dissent. We would however always recommend discussing the issues first with your neighbour as they are often resolvable through direct dialogue. If your concerns relate to loss of light, the height of a wall or structure and generally anything aesthetic, then this would not usually be a reason for dissenting under the Act. Such concerns should be passed on to the planning department or possibly a rights of light specialist.
What is the process if I dissent?
Prior to serving an Award, the Surveyor(s) will inspect your property to undertake a Schedule of Condition.
This is usually a written and photographic record of the condition of your property prior to the start of works to allow any subsequent damage can be identified and resolved.
This limits any uncertainty and is to the benefit of both parties.
The Surveyor(s) will then agree and serve a Party Wall Award which will include the Schedule of Condition as well as all relevant drawings.
The Award sets out what works can take place and how they are to take place. An Award will often list any protective measures to be put in place to your property.
On completion of the works, the Surveyor(s) will undertake a final inspection of your property to confirm whether there has been damage or not. If there is any damage, then it will be dealt with.
It is important to note that consenting does not preclude you from dissenting at the end of the works and appointing a surveyor to resolve the sole issue of unresolved damage.
The risk of any such dispute is minimised by requesting a schedule of condition of your property prior to the works.
The Act allows you to appoint a surveyor of your choosing.
However, we understand that you may have concerns over the additional costs your neighbour will incur, hence why we recommend that in the first instance you discuss any issues directly.
Dialogue resolves most issues (and we strongly recommend any resulting agreement is made in writing).
When consent is given, we always recommend that a Schedule Of Condition is undertaken. This protects both parties, not just the Adjoining Owner. We believe this should be done as a minimum to prevent any dispute or uncertainty on completion of the works.
In some cases, appointing a surveyor can help protect neighbourly relationships by identifying the issues and problems prior to the works and effectively putting their resolution in the hands of independent parties.
Beyond this, choosing to dissent is entirely your prerogative and we hope the information on our site helps you make a decision. We will be happy to discuss further over the telephone.