How long do Party Wall matters take?

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    What is that Party Wall Act procedure, and how long does it take?

    The Party Wall Act is often overlooked on a construction project, and it can cause delays if it isn’t factored in to the programme. This short article will help you understand when to engage a surveyor, when to serve party wall notices, and how long each of the stages of the party wall procedure takes.

     

    When to appoint a surveyor

    You should appoint a surveyor if you believe that the Party Wall Act may apply to your works. This includes works directly to a party wall or structure (can be a floor between properties), excavation close to another property, and building on the boundary with another property. The best time to contact a surveyor about your project is as soon as you become aware that the Act might apply to the works. He will be able to advise you about how best to proceed.

    Therefore, we would recommend that you appoint a surveyor to confirm whether your works require Party Wall matters as soon as you are certain that you intend to carry out the works.

    When to serve party wall notices

    You must serve party wall notices at least 1 or 2 months before the works start, depending on which notices you serve and what works you are carrying out.

    If you intend to carry out works directly to a party structure, for example to insert a steel beam, or to underpin a wall, you must serve the Party Structure Notice at least 2 months before you intend to carry out the works.

    If you intend to excavate close to your neighbour’s property, or build on the boundary line, then you must serve notice at least 1 month before the works / excavations start.

    What information is needed to prepare the notices?

    Your surveyor will want a copy of the project drawings, as well as a section drawing of the proposed foundations if you intend on excavating near another property. He will likely also have some questions about your project that can usually be provided verbally, and he will ask you about these when he is appointed. Information on your neighbours is also useful, however your surveyor should carry out all the necessary checks on the Land Registry as necessary.

    How long does each stage of the party wall process take?

    After you appoint a surveyor he will typically review the drawings and confirm which notices need to be sent. For a simple project where the information is provided promptly, and there are no complications in obtaining contact details for your neighbours, the notices can be served within a few days, but that is depend on the availability of information and can take up to 2 or more weeks.

    The notices will then be with your neighbour for up to 14 days. In the event that your neighbour does not respond, they are deemed to have dissented to the works, and your surveyor will issue a 10-day notice letter which gives them ten days to appoint their own surveyor otherwise one will be appointed to act on their behalf for them.

    So the longest the notification period will take is 24-25 working days, and this is set out in the Act and should be followed by your surveyor.

    If a dispute arises the surveyors will need to come together and arrange to carry out a schedule of condition. This on average takes about 1/2 weeks to arrange, but can be longer.

    Once the schedule of condition has been carried out, the surveyor working for the person carrying out the works will prepare the draft award. This will then be checked and commented upon by the neighbour’s surveyor, and any amendments made. Following this, the final Award will be signed and issued to the adjoining owner’s surveyor for signing. Once this is complete, the signed Awards will be sent to the relevant owners and the works can commence.

    For the preparation of the Award and the signing by all surveyors, you should typically allow 1-3 weeks.

    Summary

    So on average job you can expect:

    • Prepare notices: 1 – 2 weeks
    • Notice period: 3 weeks
    • Arrange Schedule of Condition: 1/2 weeks
    • Prepare Award: 1-3 weeks
    • Total time from issue of notices to service of Awards: 4 – 8 weeks, on average.

    Bear in mind that these are just indicative and can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the project, and can run on for months, so it is always advised to consult a party wall surveyor as soon as possible.

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