Navigating the Party Wall Process: Tips and Tricks for Success

Planning a construction project can be an exciting endeavor, but it often comes with its fair
share of challenges. One such challenge is navigating the Party Wall process. Whether you’re a
homeowner embarking on a home extension or a developer undertaking a commercial project,
understanding the ins and outs of this process is crucial for a smooth and successful
construction journey. In this article, we will share valuable tips and tricks to help you navigate
the Party Wall process with confidence. From understanding the legal requirements to building
positive relationships with your neighbors, we will provide you with expert insights and practical
advice to ensure a stress-free experience. So, whether you’re new to the world of construction
or a seasoned professional, join us as we unpack the secrets to a successful Party Wall process
and unlock the door to a seamless construction project.

What is the Party Wall Process?

The Party Wall process refers to the legal procedure outlined in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996,
which aims to protect the rights of both Building Owner and Adjoining Owners during
construction works. This legislation is designed to ensure that any proposed works that could
potentially affect a shared Party Wall or boundary are carried out in a fair and considerate
manner. The Party Wall process involves the appointment of a Party Wall Surveyor, who are
responsible for facilitating communication between the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner,
and for resolving any disputes that may arise during the construction process.
Understanding the importance of the Party Wall Act is crucial for anyone planning a construction
project, as failure to comply with the legal requirements can lead to costly delays, legal disputes,
and potential damage to neighbor relationships. By familiarising yourself with the Party Wall
process, you can ensure that your construction project proceeds smoothly and that you maintain
positive relationships with your neighbors throughout the process.

Party Wall Process Step-by-Step:

The Party Wall process can be broken down into several key steps, each of which plays a vital
role in ensuring a successful construction project. Understanding these steps will enable you to
navigate the process with confidence and avoid any potential pitfalls along the way.

  • Serving a Party Wall Notice: The first step in the Party Wall process is to serve a Party
    Wall Notice to your Adjoining Owner(s). This notice outlines the proposed works and provides
    important information regarding the Party Wall process. It is essential to serve this notice
    correctly, as failure to do so can invalidate the entire process and lead to further delays and
    legal complications later on.
  • Adjoining Owner(s) response: Once the Party Wall Notice has been served, the Adjoining
    Owner has a specific timeframe in which they can respond. They can either provide their
    consent to the proposed works or dissent and appoint a Party Wall Surveyor. It is
    essential to maintain open lines of communication with the Adjoining Owner during this stage to
    ensure a positive and collaborative approach to the construction project.
  • Appointment of Party Wall Surveyor: If the Adjoining Owner dissents, they have a choice
    of either appointing one ‘Agreed Surveyor’ to act on behalf of both parties or for both the
    Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner to appoint their own individual Party Wall Surveyor.
    With the latter – these surveyors will act independently to protect the interests of their respective
    clients and facilitate the Party Wall process. It is crucial to select experienced and impartial
    Party Wall Surveyor who can navigate any potential disputes and ensure a fair resolution.
  • Agreement of Party Wall Awards: The appointed Party Wall Surveyor will work together
    to draft the Party Wall Awards, which outline the rights and responsibilities of both the Building
    Owner and the Adjoining Owner. The party wall award detail the scope of the proposed works, the
    agreed-upon working hours, access arrangements, construction related risk mitigation
    measures and any other relevant factors. Once both parties have agreed to the terms of the
    Party Wall Award, they become legally binding and must be adhered to throughout the
    construction process.
  • Carrying out the works: With the Party Wall Awards in place, the Building Owner can
    proceed with the construction works in accordance with the agreed-upon terms. It is essential to
    follow the guidelines outlined in the Party Wall Award and to keep the Adjoining Owner informed
    of any significant milestones or potential disruptions. Maintaining open lines of communication
    and addressing any concerns promptly will help foster positive neighbor relationships and
    ensure a smooth construction journey.

Tips for Navigating the Party Wall Process:

Navigating the Party Wall process can seem daunting, but with the right approach and
preparation, you can ensure a successful outcome. Here are some valuable tips to consider:

  • Start early: It is crucial to initiate the Party Wall process as early as possible. Serving the
    Party Wall Notice(s) well in advance will provide ample time for discussions, negotiations, and
    the appointment of a Party Wall Surveyor. Starting early will help you avoid unnecessary delays
    and ensure that all parties involved have sufficient time to prepare and understand their rights
    and obligations.
  • Maintain open lines of communication: Building positive relationships with your neighbors
    is key to a smooth and successful construction project. From the initial Party Wall Notice to the
    completion of the works, ensure that you maintain open and transparent lines of communication
    with the Adjoining Owner. Address any concerns promptly and be proactive in providing updates on the progress of the project. This will help build trust and foster a collaborative approach throughout the Party Wall process.
  • Engage experienced professionals: The Party Wall process is a complex legal procedure
    that requires expert knowledge and experience. Engaging the services of experienced Party
    Wall Surveyors and party wall agreements legal professionals will ensure that you navigate the process smoothly and
    avoid any potential pitfalls. These professionals can guide you through the various stages of the
    process, provide expert advice, and help resolve any disputes that may arise.
  • Be prepared for potential challenges: While the Party Wall process aims to facilitate a
    smooth construction journey, challenges can still arise. It is essential to be prepared for potential
    disagreements, delays, and additional costs. By anticipating these party fence walls challenges and having contingency plans in place, you can minimise their impact on your construction project and
    ensure a successful outcome.

Working with Party Wall Surveyors:

The role of Party Walls Surveyors is crucial in ensuring a fair and transparent Party Wall
process. These professionals act as independent mediators, facilitating communication between
the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner and ensuring that the rights and obligations of both
parties are protected. When selecting Party Walls Surveyors, consider the following:

  • Experience: Look for Surveyors with reasonable experience in Party Wall matters. They should have a deep understanding of the Party Wall Act and the Party Wall process.
  • Impartiality: Party Walls Surveyors must act impartially and in the best interests of their clients. Ensure that your chosen Surveyor is independent and free from any conflicts of interest.
  • Communication skills: Effective communication is essential throughout the Party Wall process. Look for Surveyors who are skilled in resolving conflicts and maintaining positive neighbor relationships.
  • Efficiency: Timely resolution of disputes is vital to keep the construction project on track. Choose a Surveyor who can work efficiently and effectively to ensure a smooth process.

The Role of the Adjoining Owner in the Process:

The Adjoining Owner plays a crucial role in the Party Wall process. It is important to consider
their perspective and address any concerns they may have. Here are some key points to keep
in mind when dealing with the Adjoining Owner:

  • Open communication: From the outset, establish open lines of communication with the Adjoining Owner. Address any concerns they may have and keep them informed of the proposed works and their potential impact.
  • Respect their rights: The Party Wall Act is designed to protect the rights of both parties. Ensure that the Adjoining Owner’s rights and interests are respected throughout the process.
  • Timely response: The Adjoining Owner has a specific timeframe in which they can respond to the Party Wall Notice. The Act stipulates a 14-day notice period followed by a 10-day reminder if in the instances the Adjoining Owner fails to respond within the first 14-day statutory notice period. Encourage them to provide their response within the initial 14-day timeframe to avoid unnecessary delays.

By approaching the Party Wall process with a co-operative and considerate mindset, you can
build positive relationships with the Adjoining Owner and ensure a smooth construction journey.

The Role of the Building Owner in the Process:

As the Building Owner, it is your responsibility to initiate the Party Wall agreement process and ensure its
smooth progression. Here are some key considerations for a Building Owner:

  • Serve the Party Wall Notice(s) correctly: The Party Wall Agreement Notice must be served correctly to avoid any party wall agreements legal complications. Familiarise yourself with the requirements outlined in the Party Wall Act and ensure that the notice is served within the appropriate time frame.
  • Appoint competent Party Wall Surveyors: Selecting an experienced and impartial Party Wall Agreement Surveyor is crucial for a successful process. Engage a surveyor who can guide you through the process, protect your interests, and maintain positive neighbour relationships.
  • Adhere to the Party Wall Award: Once the Party Wall Award(s) have been agreed upon, it is essential to adhere to their terms. Follow the guidelines outlined in the Award(s), maintain open lines of communication with the Adjoining Owner, and address any concerns promptly.

By fulfilling your responsibilities as the Building Owner and maintaining a co-operative
approach, you can navigate the Party Wall agreement process with confidence and ensure a successful
construction project.

Party Wall Awards Process FAQs:

What is the purpose of the Party Wall process?

The Party Wall agreement process is designed to protect the rights and interests of both Building Owners
and Adjoining Owners during construction works that could potentially affect shared Party Walls

or boundaries. It aims to facilitate open communication, fair negotiations, and the resolution of
any disputes that may arise.

Do all construction projects require a Party Wall Notice?

Not all construction projects require a Party Wall Agreement Notice. The Party Wall Act applies to specific
types of works, including building on or near a shared Party Wall, excavating near a shared
boundary, and modifying a Party Wall. It is essential to understand whether your project falls
under the scope of the Party Wall Act and to serve a Party Wall Notices accordingly.

What happens if the Adjoining Owner dissents?

If the Adjoining Owner dissents, they have the right to appoint their own Party Walls Surveyors.
Both the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyors will then work together to draft
the Party Wall Awards, ensuring that the rights and obligations of both parties are protected.

What if a dispute arises during the Party Wall process?

In the event of a dispute, the appointed Party Walls Surveyors will work together to find a
resolution. If they are unable to agree, a Third-Surveyor is appointed prior to the
commencement of the negotiations to make a final decision. It is crucial to engage experienced
Party Walls Surveyors who can navigate potential disputes and facilitate fair resolutions.

To Conclude:

Navigating the Party Wall agreement process is a crucial step in ensuring a successful and stress-free
construction project. By understanding the party wall agreements legal requirements, following the step-by-step process, and engaging experienced professionals, you can navigate this process with
confidence. Building positive relationships with your neighbors, maintaining open lines of
communication, and addressing any concerns promptly will help foster a co-operative approach
and ensure a smooth construction journey. Remember, the Party Wall agreement process is designed to
protect the rights and interests of all parties involved, and by adhering to its requirements, you
can unlock the door to a seamless construction project.

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Schedule of Condition for Party Wall

When it comes to construction party wall projects involving neighboring properties, party walls play a
significant role. To make sure everyone is treated fairly and disputes are minimized without a considerable financial burden, it’s crucial to have a clear and detailed party wall schedule of condition. In this article, we’ll explain why this is so important for party walls and party wall process and how it can protect you and your property.

What is a Schedule of Condition?
A schedule of condition is a detailed record that describes the current condition of a commercial property or properties next to where construction is planned. It’s like a snapshot that captures how things
look before any work starts. This record is important for future reference and comparison in the
event of damage disputes.

When is a Schedule of Conditions Needed?
A schedule of condition is usually required when construction work could potentially affect the
structure of neighboring properties. By identifying any risks upfront, it helps protect the rights of
both the people doing the construction, both the Building Owner and the people living next door
(Adjoining Owner).

What Does a Schedule of Conditions Include?
A detailed schedule of condition includes written descriptions, photographs, and sometimes
videos. It provides a comprehensive view of the property’s current condition, allowing a
thorough assessment of any changes that might occur during or after the construction work. For
example of schedule of conditions, it can measure the size of cracks to help identify any new damage and understand the existing condition better.

The Role of a Party Wall Surveyor:
A Party Wall Surveyor, often a qualified surveyor from the RICS, is responsible for creating the
schedule of conditions. They have to be fair and unbiased. They arrange access to the
neighboring properties through the Adjoining Owner and conduct a detailed inspection. By
documenting any existing damage carefully, they make sure the condition report is
complete and accurate for party wall notices.

Benefits of Having a Schedule of Condition:
There are several advantages to having schedule of conditions. Firstly, it protects Building
Owner from false claims of damage, providing evidence to disprove any unfounded
accusations. Secondly, it protects the adjoining owner’s residential property as it serves as important
documentation for insurance purposes, making it easier to make claims if needed. Lastly, a
schedule of condition acts as a starting point for comparison in case of future disputes, helping
determine who is responsible for any new damage.

Case Study:

To understand how this process works in practice, let’s consider a dispute involving a
loft conversion. Under a party wall agreement produced by an Agreed Surveyor, a contractor
unintentionally caused damage to the neighbours property. Fortunately, because there was a
schedule of condition, the damage was quickly identified when the construction was completed.
By referring back to the initial report, the surveyor could determine if the damage was due to the
notifiable work and need for internal repair for legal or contractual reasons. This helped resolve the issue promptly and prevent further arguments. It ensures fairness, protects the rights of all parties involved, and reduces the likelihood of disputes and tenant’s repairing obligations. As a Chartered Surveyor, using a detailed schedule of condition party wall act strengthens your position, safeguards the Building Owners and Adjoining owners, and contributes to the success of construction party wall projects and obtain a party wall award.

Find out more and book a Schedule of Condition for your party wall project today! We are happy to help at The Party Wall Guru.

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What are the benefits of having Party Wall Agreed Surveyor? 

When the Building Owner’s agreed party wall surveyor serves Party Wall Notices on behalf of the Building Owners, they are a number of options available to pick from at the luxury of the Adjoining Owners. However, as in the previous blog posts I have covered these options in detail, I won’t detail all of them here but simply put, if the Adjoining Owner’s decide they wish to dissent then they have the option to either appoint their own independent building owner’s surveyor or they can appoint a joint ‘Agreed Surveyor’.  

In most instances if not all, having one party wall act ‘Agreed Surveyor’ is more cost effective and time efficient. There is more control over the process and any disputes are resolved more amicably than having two of your own party structure wall surveyor on board.  

We are often asked the question ‘how can you maintain neutrality as a joint party wall surveyor?’. Well, the answer is that whilst the Act itself does not state your own surveyor must maintain impartiality, it is indicated by the clauses in the Act which state that adjoining owner’s property are prohibited in acting for themselves. This implies a state of impartiality to be maintained by the professional appointed. Secondly, it is advisable to use an RICS Regulated Chartered Surveyor who must abide by the byelaws and code of conducts stipulated by the RICS to provide an honest and transparent party walls surveyor service to their clients.  

A point of distinction in the process where an ‘Agreed Surveyor’ is appointed as compared to having two independent surveyors is that when there are two party wall surveyor appointed, they will both agree to the appointment of a ‘Third Surveyor’. This appointment is a redress mechanism when the two surveyors are unable to resolve a dispute that has occurred. However, when an Agreed Surveyor is appointed, there is no ‘Third Surveyor’ appointed. The only available redress mechanism in this instance will be to appeal the Party Wall Award if the Building Owner or adjoining owner’s surveyor are unhappy with it’s contents. However, rest assured this is a very rare scenario and we at Party Wall Guru have never had an instance whereby any building owner was unhappy with our Party Wall Awards and we are dedicated to continuing this success in the party wall process.  

If you have any questions, our team are very happy to speak with you and assist.  

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Is the removal of chimney breasts notifiable?

In this blog, I will aim to answer the question regarding one of the most common types of works that our customers undertake to their properties and whether they require to serve party wall agreement and Party Wall Notices

Chimney breast removal is covered under the party wall etc act 1996 under Section 2(2). As such, the party wall agreement requires you to serve a Party Wall Notices if you are undertaking this work to your property. However, whilst it is notifiable, the question regarding whether you must serve a party wall notice would first of all depend on the type of property you live in. The requirement would only be if you are removing a chimney breast in a property that is “adjoining” another, for example, semi-detached properties. If you live in a detached house for instance, you would not be required to serve a Section 2(2) party wall notice as there aren’t any building owner or adjoining owner who require protection from your works. 

Would I require a steel beam or gallows brackets? 

Now that we have clarified whether a notice must be served Party Wall Notices, let’s answer how you would ensure there is appropriate support for your remaining chimney stack if let’s say you want to remove a chimney breast from your first floor room. 

Both steel beams and gallows brackets are common and acceptable methods of providing support to a stack, however, the choice would depend on a number of factors and we always advise to consult a structural engineer who would help to make this determination for you. 

Gallows brackets are triangular, right angled units that come in pairs. They are used to provide support to a chimney stack to prevent it collapsing. They are usually made from either steel or iron and have a metal plate between them to provide support as well as resin anchored bolts. 

They are used in instances when a steel beam is not used and are purchased from builders merchants. 

There are instances when a gallows bracket is not suitable and an RSJ should be used instead. For example, if the bricks and mortar of the party wall are in a poor condition then gallows brackets should be avoided. If the chimney stack projects more than 150% than the supporting boundary wall or 340mm then an RSJ is preferred. 

Lastly, as mentioned this should always be consulted with a structural engineer for a party structure notice. Chimney breast removal also require building regs approval which must be dealt with your local council yourself directly. 

As always, our party wall surveyor are happy to speak with you regarding your works, planning permission, party wall award, party wall agreement, party fence wall, party wall notice, party wall act and advise.

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What are Party Wall Notices and when should they be served?

Within this blog post, I will discuss what formal Party Wall Notices are, explain when it becomes incumbent upon the Owner (the person doing the notifiable works) to serve them upon all relevant Adjoining Owners (the person affected by the notifiable works).

A Building Owner is duty bound under the Party Wall etc Act 1996 to serve a party wall notice or party wall agreement on all affected Adjoining Owners. This is often the start of the process of proceeding with Party Wall award matters legally under the party wall act to then allow you to commence works on site for your much awaited project whether that be a rear extension or a loft conversion for instance. The first port of call is identifying the Adjoining Owners and serving your Notices on them.

The primary objective is to provide knowledge, share expertise, make them aware of the latest and innovative products, give them financial guidance in a more systematic and authentic manner.

What exactly is this Party Wall Notice?

A Party Wall Notice informs the affected Adjoining Owners of your intentions to carry out works to a party structure, build a wall up to or on the line of junction (alternatively called the boundary line) or excavating below or near to an Adjoining Owner’s structure. Depending on the nature of the notifiable works. the party walls Notice from a party wall surveyor will provide a statutory time frame of either 1 month or 2 months before works can commence. Unless the Adjoining Owners opts to waive this period through their consent.

The Notice and party wall agreements will mention clearly the specifics of the notifiable works, statutory timeframes, identify the legal owners of the property where the works are taking place and are in most cases accompanied with technical plans from the architect.

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My neighbour is doing works and I would like to be protected.

In this blog post, I will answer a common query that we at Party Wall Guru receive from both the building owner and Adjoining Owners on almost a weekly basis and that is to do with how they can protect themselves from works taking place nearby or next to their property.

Party Wall Act procedures…

Right, let’s assume that you as the Adjoining Owner (the person affected by the works) have been served a Notice by your neighbour and you would like a Surveyor involved to safeguard your property from the works. The first port of call for your Surveyor prior to making any engagements with the other party is to receive a signed Letter of Appointment from yourselves authorising them to act on your behalf. Essentially, the signed Letter of Appointment enables them to take the matter and stress off your hands and engage in the process of protecting your property by following the procedures which I will describe shortly.

The primary objective is to provide knowledge, share expertise, make them aware of the latest and innovative products, give them financial guidance in a more systematic and authentic manner.

Once your Surveyor has received your signed Letter of Appointment, they will thoroughly investigate the documentation that has so far been produced by the Building Owner’s Surveyor to enable the Act. For example, the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor will review all the technical drawings from the architects and structural drawings from the appointed Structural Engineers and cross check them against the Notices to ensure it meets the legal requirements of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

Once the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor has satisfied all legality has been met, the next port of call is to book a joint inspection for your property to carry out a Schedule of Condition report. This is a key piece of document and we at Party Wall Guru cannot emphasise the importance of this report. This is because prior to the notifiable works commencing, the Schedule of Condition report will be produced by the Surveyors to record a thorough written and photographic record of the condition of your property. This document forms part of the final Party Wall Agreement (Award) and is then crosschecked once the works are complete to identify any damage to your residential property. As I said earlier, it is vital this step in the process is not missed! You can call us via our website, email or telephone to discuss this in more detail.

Finally, once the Schedule of Condition is produced then your chosen Surveyor will proceed towards producing a Party Wall lease agreement (Award) with the Building Owner’s Surveyor. The two Surveyors will deliberate with each other and agree the Party Wall Awards. This Award is a crucial document produced at the end of the process which provides strict requirements to follow to ensure your commercial property is at a minimum level of risk from damage.

At Party Wall Guru, our team of Surveyors will always be happy to advise you if you are unsure, contact one of our friendly team members via our website or contact details.

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