Tips for Developers on Party Walls. Party Wall legislation can be tricky, and the legal jargon surrounding it can take ages to negotiate around. We like to help our Developer clients to find creative solutions to overcome the challenges of legal boundary and neighbourly issues at the design stage of their scheme. Early consultation with all parties at an initial stage, will ensure that any fundamental issues which can cause delays or even halt developments later down the line are highlighted early.
TIP 1 – You can issue a party wall notice yourself.
Developers advice on Party Walls: The Party Wall Act does not require a Party Wall Surveyor to issue the initial notice to the adjoining owners. You can download the guide to Party Walls here ( https://www.gov.uk/party-walls-building-works ), print out the sample Notice, and issue it to the adjoining owners. If you are going to do this, read the guide first so that you issue the correct Notice and understand the timeframes. It is only if the adjoining owner dissents against the Notice, or doesn’t sign, that you will need a Party Wall Surveyor.
TIP 2 – Your surveyor can challenge the adjoining owner’s surveyor’s fees
If you are required to have a party wall award, the adjoining owners may choose to have a second surveyor instructed, which you will be obliged to pay for. Adjoining owners often think that this instruction is for ‘their’ surveyor but, in fact, both surveyors should be acting independently. If you or your surveyor believes that the second surveyor’s fees are too high, they can be challenged and negotiated to a mutually acceptable level.
TIP 3 – How you can avoid a party wall award
The reasons for the Party Wall etc. Act becoming applicable are simple and can be found in the Government’s guide but, even if the guide suggests you need to use the Act, there may be ways to avoid it. One of the main reasons for requiring an Award is if your excavation will be lower than the adjoining owner’s foundations (if within 3 metres) but with some creative engineering design, you may be able to avoid this by, for example, cantilevering your ground floor slab, which would mean that your foundations are further than 3m away and so the Act would then not be relevant.
TIP 4 – Why photographs are so important
Whether you require an Award or not, it is wise to take record photographs of both sides of a Party Structure. This will protect you from erroneous claims from the adjoining owners and protect the adjoining owners in the event of disputed damage caused by your works.
If you take the photographs (only of the Party Structure in question), ensure that they are given to the adjoining owner and agreed upon.
TIP 5 – if you build a new wall on or astride the boundary you could get some of the money back
A Party Wall Award can work financially in your favour if your neighbour is wanting to use your wall to enclose upon i.e. they want to use a wall, on your land, that you have already built and paid for, to become one of their internal walls. In this case, your surveyor will write a sum into the Award that they will be required to pay you for the use of your wall. The sum is usually calculated as half the cost of the construction of the wall.
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We work with developers and landowners to maximise the potential of their sites and increase their ROI. The developments range from 9 units to upwards of 50 units and often include areas of other uses such as commercial, retail, and F&B. We have excellent working relationships with a range of trusted consultants and suppliers and can advise on all aspects of these developments; from feasibility stage through to completion. We have developed an efficient and accurate site viability programme to assist developers and landowners evaluate their sites and this is offered at feasibility stage.
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