BUILDERS AND PARTY WALLS
Many builders will have a party wall issue at some point in a clients property. Whenever a wall or even another structure such as a floor or ceiling is shared with a neighbouring property, the property owner has a legal obligation under the Party Wall Act of 1996 to inform their neighbour in advance of any major works being undertaken. For example, a homeowner wishing to build a new wall at the shared boundary of their property or seeking to remove a chimney would be required to inform their neighbour well in advance of the work taking place. This could be anywhere between two months and a year.
Once notified, its not as straightforward as simply going ahead with the work. Under the act both homeowners must be able to come to an agreement about the planned work before it can go ahead – and if they do not agree with your submitted plans then a surveyor must act as an independent arbitrator to help resolve the situation fruitfully. The best way to ensure that disputes and disruptions are kept to a minimum is to hire a surveyor at the beginning of this process rather than at the end.
A professional party wall surveyor can make this kind of home improvement much easier by:
Identify shared boundaries across the properties that might be affected by all kinds of work, whether a shared wall or a driveway to identify exactly where concerns will be raised
Draft a ‘Party Wall Award’ in case of dispute – the legally binding document that independently assesses liability for costs and the extent and nature of work allowed by either party
Identify any right of ways that may be affected by planned work and avoid any complications this might cause
Provide an accurate and informed assessment of the legal responsibilities of each party involved as well as of the costs and time-frame of any changes or complications to the original plans
With the aid of a surveyor, it’s entirely possible that even a complicated boundary issue can be resolved without the need of a dispute. By providing neighbours with a careful and comprehensive initial proposal an agreement is far more likely to be reached without any dispute or objection. Even in the case where a dispute is unavoidable, the aid of a surveyor allows the dispute process to be resolved as quickly as possible and a fair and equitable agreement reached by all parties involved.