7 Steps To Creating Your Own Party Wall Notices

Some building owners choose to prepare their own party wall notices rather than using a surveyor. In this article we'll be looking at how to best create your own party wall notices, as well as some of the risks of going it alone!
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    With some surveying firms charging in excess of £200 per party wall notice, many building owners find themselves looking for cheaper ways of preparing compliant party wall notices. In this article, we’re going to look at how to create your own party wall notices, including understanding who to serve notices on, which types of notices to serve, what documents to include with your notices, and how to prepare and serve the notices in a way that is compliant with The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (“the Act”).

    We’re also going to be highlighting some of the risks of creating your own party wall notices, including real-life scenarios that we’ve encountered in our professional capacity as party wall surveyors, and how to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes.

    party wall notice
    Inserting beams into a party wall or structure is notifiable under The Party Wall Act.

    Step 1: Understanding what a party wall notice is, and why it matters?

    A party wall notice is simply a written notice of your intentions to carry out certain works which are notifiable under The Party Wall etc. Act 1996. The notices need to be served on all affected adjoining owners.

    You may be required to serve notice if you are planning to carry out an extension, loft conversion, or other construction project within 3m of a property under different ownership.

    If you do not serve all affected owners with the required notices, you are breaking the law. The result of which may lead to injunctions to prevent the works from proceeding. It can also cause lenders to refuse to release finance for your project, builders to decline to carry out work, and a break down in relations with your neighbours at a time when you most want them to be amicable.

    The result of this is invariably delays to the works programme, and financial expense.

    Step 2: Identifying the notifiable works

    Now we have briefly looked at why you need to serve party wall notices, the next step is to understand which types of works you are required to notify your neighbours about.

    The list of works that require notice is more extensive than this, but you will need to serve party wall notices to cover any of the following common notifiable works:

    • Excavation with 3m of an adjoining structure, or excavation within 6m in the case of piled foundations.
    • New building (including garden walls) on the line of junction with another property.
    • Work directly to a party wall or party structure, such as inserting beams in a wall, removing a chimney breast connected to a shared wall, underpinning, or raising a party wall.

    If you are in doubt about whether your works are notifiable or not, you should speak to a surveyor to confirm this, or get a professional to prepare your notices for you.

    adjacent excavation
    Excavating for any reason within 3m of a neighbouring property, and to a depth deeper than its foundations, is notifiable under the Act.
    party wall notice loft conversion
    If you are carrying out a loft conversion and your property is not detached, it is likely you will need to serve party wall notices. This is because you will usually insert beams into a party wall, cut flashings in, or raise a party wall to form part of the enclosure.

    Step 3: Identifying who to send the notices to

    Under the Act you need to serve notices on all the owners of the properties which the notifiable works are affecting.

    An “owner” is considered to be any or all of the following:

    • Freeholders
    • Leaseholders
    • Tenants who have lived at the property for more than 1 year

    For example, imagine you live in a mid-terrace property and you want to carry out a single storey rear extension for which both adjoining properties are affected, with the notifiable works being excavating within 3m, and inserting a steel beam in the party wall. The house to the right is under owner-occupation, with the freeholder living there. The house on the left has a tenant that has lived at the property for 13 months.

    In this example, you would need to serve notice on 3 different owners:

    1. The freehold owner of the house on the right.
    2. The freehold owner of the house on the left.
    3. The tenant of the house on the left (because they have been a tenant there for more than 1 year).

    Similarly, if either property was under leasehold ownership, the freeholder and the leaseholder would need to receive notice.

    If you do not know the names of the adjoining freeholders or leaseholders, you should carry out a search of the Land Registry for a small fee (£3 at the time of writing) and this will give you the latest details on ownership.

    To find out the names of tenants, you can ask the freeholder / leaseholder.

    If you are unable to find out the name of a tenant (or any other owner), refer to Step 6 below for details on serving a notice addressed to “The owner”, rather than a named individual.

    creating your own party wall notices
    In the case of terraced, or semi-detached houses, there will likely be multiple adjoining owners, including leaseholders and long-term tenants. All will require notice to be sent to them.

    Step 4: Preparing the notices

    At this point you should have already established the following:

    1. What works are notifiable in your project.
    2. Which adjoining owners need to receive a notice.

    Now it’s on to creating your party wall notices.

    In order to be compliant, your notices should include the following:

    • The names and address of the parties involved.
    • A description of the notifiable works.
    • Be signed.
    • Be dated.

    You can find party wall notice templates online and fill them in yourself. Alternatively, there are free online party wall notice creation platforms that allow you to simply fill in the online form and your notice documents are instantly available. Be cautious though, as some charge fees for this service, whilst others are free.

    Whichever method you choose, you must ensure that the information you enter is accurate. Failing to do so will likely mean that the notice is not compliant under the Act. For this reason, an online notice creation platform is preferable to templates as it will guide you through the process without you having to guess.

    Step 5: Compiling your documents

    Once you have created your party wall notice(s), you can now start to compile the documents to go with the notice.

    When serving the notice on an adjoining owner, you should include any project drawings that show the notifiable works. This is typically existing and proposed plans, elevations, and sections, as well as structural details, if available.

    Important: if you are serving a notice for adjacent excavation within 3m or 6m, you MUST include a detail drawing showing the proposed excavation / foundation, and a plan showing the proposed layout of the excavations. This is a requirement of the Act and failing to include it will invalidate your notice.

    Step 6: Serving your party wall notices

    Once you have compiled your documents, you should now serve your notices on your neighbours. This should be done in one of the following ways to ensure compliance with the Act:

    • Deliver it in person to your neighbour(s).
    • If no person is in, the notice can be fixed to a conspicuous part of their premises.
    • Posting it to your neighbour at their usual, or last-known residence or place of business.
    • If the neighbour is a corporate body, the notice can be delivered to its secretary or clerk at its registered or principal office, or you can post it to them.

    The above methods can only be used if you know the name of the owner you are serving the notice on. If you do not know the name, you can simply put “The owner” on the notice, however in such cases the notice must be hand delivered to them, or fixed to a conspicuous part of their premises.

    Step 7: After you have served your notice

    Once your notices have been served, your neighbour has 14 days to respond. They can respond by either consenting, or dissenting to the notice.

    In the event that a neighbour consents, the proposed works can go ahead, and nothing further is required under the Act. This is subject to the notice periods expiring. The notice periods are 1 month for adjacent excavation, and new building on the line of junction, and 2 months for works directly to a party wall or structure. This period can be reduced if agreed in writing by your neighbour.

    In the event that a neighbour dissents, then a dispute is deemed to have arisen and party wall surveyors will need to be appointed by both parties to agree a Party Wall Award (sometimes called a Party Wall Agreement). The award created by the surveyor(s) will settle any matters in dispute, and is legally binding.

    In selecting their surveyor, your neighbour can either choose to appoint their own surveyor, or they can agree to share your surveyor (known as the Agreed Surveyor).

    In most normal circumstances, you are responsible for the fees of all surveyors.

    Finally, if a neighbour does not respond to the notice within 14 days, then they are deemed to have automatically dissented. At this point you should serve your neighbour with a letter asking them to appoint a surveyor within 10 days, or you will appoint one for them. Once the surveyors are appointed, the process of agreeing the Party Wall Award will begin.

    What are the risks?

    Preparing party wall notices is a straightforward process, so long as you know what you are doing. If you are doing it for the first time, or your understanding of the Act is limited, then there are real risks that something may go wrong.

    To avoid potentially significant problems, you must ensure that you double-check each of the following:

    1. That the notice itself is compliant (i.e. that it is dated, signed, and includes the names of all parties and addresses).
    2. That you have included the required drawings.
    3. That you have identified all the adjoining owners.
    4. That you have covered all notifiable work in your notices.

    A mistake involving one of the above can lead to your notices not being compliant with the Act, or owners not being notified at all. The result of this is that the whole notification period will need to be started again leading to delays of 1-2 months or more.

    We have worked on multiple party wall matters where the building owner has served their own notices and those notices have not been compliant. In such cases, we need to prepare entirely new notices, and the process has to start again. This leaves the building owner paying the fees that he initially tried to avoid in the first place, and also having his work delayed.

    We have seen construction works paused at critical times because of self-served party wall notices, for example where an external wall has been opened up, and builders charging additional costs for the delays which were entirely the fault of the building owner. In such occasions, little sympathy is given to the building owner, and it can be much more costly than having had a professional create your notices for you in the first place.

    Final thoughts

    Creating your party wall notices on your own can save you hundreds of pounds, but with that saving comes the risk that you might make a mistake.

    If you are confident that you are able to make your own party wall notices, we would recommend finding good quality online templates.

    If you are in any doubt, or would prefer to have a practising party wall surveyor review your project and prepare your notices for you, , or complete the form below and someone will be touch.

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