Party wall disputes? Here are a few advices: What is not covered by the Act? The Act relates only to certain specific types of work and is permissive in nature. It should not be seen as a method of objecting to or preventing works and it is not intended to be applied to minor jobs that do not affect the structural integrity or loading of a party wall. It is generally agreed that works such as fixing plug sockets, screwing in shelving or replastering walls are minor works and do not require a notice. Notices: The workings of the Act are always instigated by the of issuing notices. This is the first stage of the process and, without the issue of valid notices, no further action can be taken under the provision of the Act. Written notice must be served on adjoining owners at least two months before starting any party wall works (one month for works to the line of junction or excavations). All adjoining owners must be served a notice and there are likely to be instances where there is more than one adjoining property and more than one owner of each property (ie: if the adjoining property is split into flats and owned on a leasehold basis, notices will be required to both leaseholder and freeholder of all flats affected by the works). Works to a party wall, or those affecting a ceiling or floor, will also require a notice to adjoining owners living above or below.
Certain works which are likely to affect your neighbours are covered by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. This legislation provides protection to all parties involved and is intended to enable the works to be undertaken. In the event of non-cooperation from your neighbour or disagreement, party wall surveyors agree how the works should be carried out, including necessary protection measures and rectification of any damage. The purpose of the act is to avoid litigation by dealing with potential problems up front.
This decision would be much easier if you knew in advance whether or not your neighbour was planning to consent. Why not smooth the way by giving your neighbour a copy of the plans as soon as they are ready and at least a week or two before serving the official notice? Take the plans round personally and explain the parts of the work which will affect their property. Include your architect’s office number in case they have any technical questions. Having received full details of the work your neighbour should may be able to tell you whether or not they will consent before you serve the notice; although they might wish to consult their own surveyor before making any response.
These types of work all require notices to be served as required by the act, once notice has been served, if there is dissent then it is deemed there is a dispute and the Act allows for this, this would be the dispute or resolution stage. Most disputes arrives when the Adjoining Owner has worries or concerns with the proposed work or simply fails to respond in the statutory time to the building owner, for which there could be many reasons. Where a dispute arises either due to non-consent or no response then the Act lays down the steps required to resolve the dispute this is where the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner will each appoint there Surveyor this could be one each or even the same surveyor with agreement for all parties working as the Agreed Surveyor. See more info at Party wall surveyor fees.