Posted: 17/02/21 by Robinson & Hall LLP
The Party Wall etc Act 1996 has been applicable to building projects outside London for over 23 years. Robinson & Hall’s expert in party wall matters, Stuart Brown, has been involved in administering the Act since inception.
Despite the pandemic, 2020 saw Stuart involved in over 100 party wall Awards and related matters. These ranged from re-roofing projects in Milton Keynes to loft conversions throughout Bedfordshire and a cinema in Luton converted into 66 apartments.
Recent experience has shown that owners intending to do building work can often overlook the implications of the Act and not leave enough time for the procedure to be dealt with and this has, in some instances, delayed building works.
Some of the most frequent areas where Stuart Brown’s expertise has been required include:
Where work is being carried out close to a neighbour’s house, boundary wall structure or outbuilding. It may be necessary to change foundation design in order to minimise the potential for damage to adjoining structures.
Loft conversions appear to be more popular than ever. These often involve building in beams into a party wall and the neighbour must be notified of your intentions. One aspect often overlooked in loft conversions is that the Act does permit extending up the party wall for the side wall of a dormer extension, which can be beneficial to both owners. The building owner can have a wider dormer extension and exercise the rights of access granted under the Act to clad the side wall of the dormer with proper weatherproofing to the neighbour’s roof covering. In the longer term, if the neighbour wishes to construct a similar dormer, this can be done using the same wall without leaving a small inaccessible gap to the neighbouring dormer.
Often a neighbour is uncertain how to respond to a Notice and who to seek advice from:
• Consult a local party wall surveyor. Although the Notice is a legal document, the Act deems that surveyors should be involved and not solicitors.
• Party wall matters normally involve technical building matters, which are best evaluated by a building surveyor.
• Solicitors have legal expertise and only become needed when a Notice has not been served and work is about to start or to enforce the terms of an Award made by surveyors.
If you are intending to carry out building work close to your neighbour’s property or if your neighbour is about to build, please call Stuart Brown, Chartered Building Surveyor on 01234 362923 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain advice on whether the Act applies and what procedures are involved.