Do I need to serve a Party Wall Notice?
You will need to serve a party wall notice if you are planning to carry out building works that fall within the act. This includes building works involving a party wall such as building against a party wall and works to or involving a party wall structure or a party wall fence. If you are going to be building on or directly adjacent to the boundary OR you are going to be excavating with 3 or 6 metres a hole, trench or otherwise that will be deeper at any point than the lowest point of a neighbours property, you have a legal obligation to serve notice on the affected building owner.
What happens if I don't serve a party wall notice? Failure to serve a party wall notice could render your building works unlawful and open you up to costly legal proceedings that are also likely to substantially delay your building works. Sometimes the simplest of jobs can go wrong having severe consequences to neighbouring properties, in which case you will want to have satisfied your legal obligations and ensured that your contractor has in place adequate insurance.
By following the party wall act, you will not only ensure your project is legal but you will avoid costly and time consuming legal proceedings in the case of the all too common issues that can arise when carrying out building works.
How much will a Party Wall Notice cost?
The cost of serving a party wall notice, sometimes referred to as a party wall act letter, can vary drastically. However, with serving party wall notices there are two costs that one should factor - the initial cost of serving the notice and the cost of serving an invalid notice, should a problem arise, which should be considered in unison prior to deciding which is most economical.
Let's’ start with the initial cost of serving a notice. This can be as cheap as the paper it’s printed on, literally. There are resources that provide party wall notices online and party wall notice templates, some free of charge, some of which even try to appraise the proposed work in an attempt to create a valid notice. The issue here is that in the not so uncommon occurrence that an issue arises through what should have simple works, an invalid notice is worth less than the paper it’s printed on. At the other end of the scale is a notice prepared by a party wall surveyor. A suitable party wall surveyor will have a detailed understanding of construction as well as a broad knowledge of the party wall act. They will appraise the proposed works and serve a valid notice on your behalf. Whilst this is likely to cost £100 or more, this is without question the most economic option in the event of the unforeseen.
Our neighbour is not responding to our Party Wall Notice?
Your neighbour(s) are not responding to a party wall notice. Hopefully you engaged a party wall surveyor to serve the aforementioned notice on your behalf and that he or she has in fact served a valid notice. If this is the case your party wall surveyor should step in and take care of the issue for you, usually by serving a 10-day notice or by appointing them a surveyor, depending where you are in the process, so relax, grab a coffee but if you can’t sit on your hands send your surveyor an email!
However, if you have arrived here via google and your search term was regarding a neighbour not responding to a party wall act letter, then perhaps you have served a notice directly without engaging a specialist party wall surveyor. If this is the case now is probably a good time to appoint a surveyor. He or she should in the first instance, review your building works against the notices that have been served. If the notices are valid then there is an onward process to follow that doesn't require the cooperation of your neighbour, providing of course the right process is followed.