Party Wall Act: my neighbour wants to convert a loft but should his friend be doing the initial survey?

Question: My pushy neighbour is converting his loft which we don’t object to — but he has just served me a notice under the Party Wall Act.

The notice says he wants to get his builder to do the  initial survey and create a “schedule of condition”.

Surely this should be done by someone completely independent, not by one of his cowboy mates? 

Answer: The Party Wall Act has a strict procedure when a building owner is proposing works to a party wall and your neighbour has done the correct thing in serving you notice. 

As the adjoining owner, you can consent or disagree to the intended works.

Where you disagree, or if you are in any doubt, you should either serve a counter-notice indicating this, or do nothing, in which case you are deemed to disagree.

You may then either appoint a surveyor to jointly represent you and your neighbour, or each appoint your own surveyor.

The surveyor(s) will then try to resolve any disputes and draw up a party wall award which sets out the agreement between you and your neighbour.

In most cases the person carrying out the works is required to meet the cost of the surveyor(s).

Where you consent to the works and then suffer damage to the property as a consequence of the works, you are still able to make a claim against your neighbour under the Party Wall Act. 

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Piers King, email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE.

Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here.

Piers King is a solicitor in the property department of Streathers Solicitors LLP.


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