Often, the first time that an adjoining owner becomes aware of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is when a notice drops through their door. There are 3 types of notice that a building owner may have to serve upon an adjoining owner to make them aware that he intends to carry out work which falls under the scope of the Act.
Party Structure Notice
Party Structure Notices are served under section 3 of the act although they cover works described in section 2 (2) sub sections (a) to (n). Generally speaking these are alterations that directly affect the party wall and include common jobs such as cutting holes to insert beams and padstones, cutting in flashings and removing chimney breasts.
The notice period is 2 months and the following information must be included for the notice to be valid (although there is not a prescribed form):
- Name and address of the building owner
- Nature and particulars of the proposed work
- Date on which the work will begin
Notice of Adjacent Excavation
Notices of Adjacent Excavation are concerned with works notifiable under section 6 of the Act. There are two types of excavations that are covered under section 6:
- Excavating within 3 metres of your neighbour’s building and to a depth lower than the bottom of their foundations
- Excavating within 6 metres of your neighbour’s building, if any part of that excavation intersects with a plane drawn downwards at an angle of 45 degrees from the bottom of their foundations, taken at a line level with the face of their external wall (this will normally mean that you neighbour is using piled foundations).
The notice must contain the same information as a Party Structure Notice but also be accompanied by plans and sections showing the extent of the proposed excavation.
With each of these types of notices the adjoining owner has 14 days to respond after which they are automatically deemed to be “in dispute” and obliged to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor.
Line of Junction Notice
This is the least common of the notices and is served under section 1 of the Act and again covers two distinct tasks:
- The construction of a new wall adjacent to a boundary.
- The construction of a new wall astride a boundary.
The notice period is one month.
If the adjoining owner does not respond to a section 1 notice relating to a neighbour’s intentions to build a new wall up to the boundary, the work can commence when the notice period has expired. The building owner may place any necessary footings and foundations (with the exception of reinforced foundations known as “special foundations”) under the adjoining owner’s land provided that it is necessary.
The building of a new wall astride the boundary is the only type of work covered under the Act which the adjoining owner can prevent. If the adjoining owner does not respond in writing within 14 days the building owner will have to build the new wall entirely on his side of the boundary line. Again, the building owner may place any necessary footings and foundations (with the exception of “special foundations”) under the adjoining owner’s land.
Notice can be served in person or by post. If the adjoining owner’s name is not know the notice can be served on “The Owner” although in this situation it has to be either delivered personally or displayed on a conspicuous part of the premises.
If you are located within the London M25 area you can contact the authors of this article, the party walls team at Peter Barry Chartered Surveyors, on 020 7183 2578 or by email and receive up to 20 mins free advice on the subject of Party Wall Notices and other party wall related matters.