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How to make the party wall process run smoothly

Learn whether you need a party wall agreement, what's involved and how to make sure it's all as painless as possible

8 January 2024
1 minutes read
Street view of a row of beautifully pastel coloured row of terrace houses with a small garden at thr front and beautifully ornate front door canopies

If you are undertaking works that fall within the scope of the Party Wall Act there is a requirement to formally notify any affected owners and either gain their consent or go through an expensive dispute resolution process involving the appointment of surveyors. In this post we look at ways in which you can ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible.

The most important thing that you can do is to make your neighbours aware of your proposals as early in the process as possible. If they only become aware when the planning application goes in or when they receive a party wall notice they will be understandably anxious and anxious owners are much more likely to seek advice from party wall surveyors.

If you arrange a meeting with your neighbours as soon as you have some plans to show them, it gives you the opportunity to provide reassurance. Ideally, you will understand the proposals well enough to fully describe them and explain how the risks will be managed, but if not, you’ll need to extol the virtues of your building team.

It’s a common misconception that an adjoining owner loses their rights if they consent to a party wall notice. In fact, anyone undertaking building works has a legal obligation to make good damage caused by those works, regardless of whether or not their neighbour has consented to the associated party wall notice, so you’re not giving anything away by promising to do so. Consenting neighbours can also appoint a surveyor later in the process if there is a dispute over the cause or cost of making good damage.

Only appointed surveyors can produce party wall awards (the document that resolves the dispute which arises when a notice is dissented to) but legally there's nothing to prevent neighbours from agreeing matters between themselves. However, although it is possible to do this yourself, we always advise that you appoint a party wall surveyor at the beginning of the process to deal with the process and send the party wall notices to your neighbours. That way, you will have peace of mind that the notices have the correct content and legal obligations. If the notice is then disputed, the surveyor can then assist you in preparing the awards and ongoing discussions with the neighbours and their surveyor. Although this may add additional costs for appointing the surveyor, it will make sure the process is completed smoothly..

If party wall surveyors are involved, there are still plenty of things that you can do to keep the costs down including choosing an experienced surveyor who will anticipate potential queries and ensure that your neighbour’s surveyor’s fee is reasonable.

Post written with the assistance of Justin Burns BSc (Hons) MRICS FFPWS of Peter Barry Party Wall Surveyors. 

Ufuk Bahar, Founder and Managing Director of Urbanist Architecture
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Ufuk Bahar

Urbanist Architecture’s founder and managing director, Ufuk Bahar takes personal charge of some of our larger projects, focusing particularly on Green Belt developments, new-build flats and housing and high-end full refurbishments.

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