A Party Wall Surveyor is a qualified professional who specialises in resolving and preventing any issues between homeowners and neighbors that arise under the ‘Party Wall etc. Act 1996’. This can involve any development involving; party walls (shared walls with neighbours), boundary walls, and excavations near neighbouring buildings.
Before we get into what a party wall surveyor is, let’s first cover what a party wall actually is.
What is the definition of a party wall?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 defines a party wall as:
‘any wall or building which stands on the land of two or more owners and is used or constructed for the common benefit of those owners; and includes—
(a) any chimney breast; and
(b) any floor partition or other internal division of a building.’
What is the definition of a boundary wall?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 defines a boundary wall as:
‘any wall or structure which forms part of the boundary of adjoining premises.’
Steps to carrying out work on a party/boundary wall
If you are planning to carry out works on a boundary wall, you must first serve a ‘Party Wall Notice’ to your neighbours. This will give them at least 2 months’ notice of your intention to carry out the proposed works.
Your neighbour can either agree to the proposed works, or object to them. If they object, you will need to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor to resolve the issue.
The Party Wall Surveyor will act as an impartial mediator between you and your neighbour, and will produce a Party Wall Award which sets out the terms under which the works can be carried out.
Do you need to serve a Party Wall Notice?
If you do not serve a Party Wall Notice, and your neighbour objects to the works, they can apply to the court for an injunction to stop the works. This can be costly and time-consuming, so it is always best to serve a Party Wall Notice as soon as you know you will be carrying out works on a party wall.
So now we understand what a party wall is, you should now realise why it’s so important to employ a party wall surveyor when thinking about conducting any development on your property that may infringe the rights of your neighbour. Let’s now look further into what a party wall surveyor does, and other ways they might help you when looking to carry out any future development plans.
Introducing the role of a party wall surveyor – what they do and why they are important.
As we have seen, a party wall surveyor plays an important role in mediating between two neighbours who share a party wall (or boundary wall), and in some cases, can help prevent disputes from arising in the first place.
What types of development work can a party wall surveyor be involved in?
Party wall surveyors can be involved in a wide range of development projects, including:
Excavations near neighbouring properties
How does the party wall surveyor resolve any issues between neighbours?
If your neighbour objects to the proposed works, the party wall surveyor will produce a Party Wall Award which sets out the terms under which the works can be carried out. This will typically involve specifying any restrictions on the works, such as timescales and noise levels, to minimise disruption to your neighbour.
What are the benefits of having a party wall surveyor involved in your development project?
There are several benefits of appointing a party wall surveyor, including:
An experienced professional who can resolve any disputes quickly and efficiently
Someone impartial who can provide guidance on the best way to carry out the proposed works
Avoid costly and time-consuming court proceedings
Protection for both you and your neighbour in the event of any damage caused by the works
How close can you build to a party wall?
There is no set distance that you have to build from a party wall, but there are several factors that you need to take into account, including:
The height of the proposed development
The type of foundation that will be used
The proximity of any trees or other obstacles
The orientation of the party wall (i.e. whether it faces north, south, east or west)
You should also bear in mind that your local planning authority may have restrictions on the proximity of buildings to party walls. It is always best to check with your local planning authority before starting any work.
When do you need to appoint a party wall surveyor?
If you are planning to carry out any development work on a party wall, you will need to appoint a party wall surveyor. This is a legal requirement, and failure to do so could result in costly and time-consuming court proceedings.
What is the difference between a Party Wall Agreement and a Party Wall Award?
A Party Wall Agreement is a document that sets out the terms under which the works will be carried out. It is typically used where both parties agree to the proposed works.
A Party Wall Award is a document that sets out the terms under which the works can be carried out in the event of a dispute. It is produced by the party wall surveyor and is binding on both parties.
What is the Party Wall etc. Act 1996?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is the primary piece of legislation governing party walls in England and Wales. It sets out the rights and responsibilities of both owners of properties that share a party wall, and outlines the procedure for carrying out work on a party wall.
If you are planning to carry out any work on a party wall, it is essential that you are familiar with the Act and understands your rights and responsibilities.
How much does it cost to appoint a party wall surveyor?
The cost of appointing a party wall surveyor will depend on a number of factors, including:
The size and complexity of the project
The number of properties involved
The location of the property
As you can see, there are many benefits to appointing a party wall surveyor when carrying out any development work which may affect your neighbours. So, if you are planning any such work, make sure you appoint a qualified professional to avoid any potential disputes. HLN are always happy to help with any party wall surveying projects, feel free to reach out to one of the team for advice today.