There is no doubt about it – home extensions require a lot of preparation. There are a variety of moving components that need attention at different stages, and a long list of items that you need to arrange before you can even begin your build. Here at Home Tales, we specialise in home extensions across London. We advise you every single step of the way, even if there are parts of the process that we cannot technically ‘manage’. One of these items is party wall. As we are an architectural firm, we recommend that you have a specialist party wall surveyor manage this part of the process. We will explain more about why this is, as well as the general process and associated costs, within this blog.
What is party wall?
The party wall is the wall that separates you and your neighbour’s properties. In London, this is particularly relevant as the houses are often terraces, semi-detached or within close proximity to one another. Some home renovation works require you to notify some or all of your adjoining owners of the works that you intend to undertake. The scope of works will dictate who you need to serve notice to. There are also different types of notice(s) that you need to serve. This again, depends on the scope of works you are undertaking. It’s important that you speak with a party wall surveyor to determine who you need to serve notice too, as well as what notice(s) need serving to those neighbours. It’s important that you have existing and proposed drawings or a confirmed scope of works in-place before approaching a party wall surveyor, as they need to understand the exact scope of works to be able to advise on who to serve to and what notice(s) need to be served.
Why should it be independent?
There are a few reasons why you should consider using an independent surveyor. First of all, the party wall act suggests that it’s better practice to do so. Your party wall surveyor should be acting in your best interest (as the homeowner), not in the interest of your architect or designer. They should work with the architect or designer, but not for them. The difference is quite crucial. Secondly, neighbours often feel unconformable if you use your architect because they see it as a conflict of interest. This can lead to a dissent (see below) which actually ends up costing you more money, as you are liable for their decisions and the fees that come as a result of that decision. Lastly, these ‘one stop shop’ companies who incorporate everything under one roof often cut corners when it comes to these specialist trades. It’s much better to have a company who specialises in the process and who do it as their main profession. The party wall process is complex and if it goes wrong it can lead to costly and timely consequences. It’s better to do it right from the beginning, which makes things easier for you and your neighbours in the long run.
What happens after I notify my neighbours?
Notice is served to the neighbours you need to notify – so what next? Well, your neighbour will be presented with four options in the notice. These four options are:
a. Consent with no further work involved. In this case the only cost to you is the cost of the notice(s).
b. Consent subject to a Schedule of Condition. In this case the cost to you is the cost of notice(s) and the Schedule of Condition. This is a survey of the party wall separating you and your neighbour. It’s basically lots of pictures and some notes to document the state of the wall and make note of any cracks or defects.
c. Dissent and agree to have your surveyor act on their behalf. In this case the cost to you is the cost of notice(s) and the cost to prepare a full award. A full award is basically a more detailed version of the schedule of condition. As your neighbour has agreed to have your surveyor act on their behalf, your surveyor would document everything for you and your neighbour.
d. Dissent and appoint their own surveyor. In this case the cost to you is the cost of notice(s) and the cost to prepare a full award, with your surveyor acting on your behalf and a second surveyor acting on your neighbours’ behalf. This generally is done with a survey where both surveyors are present, and they will both discuss and take note of the boundary wall and the state of it. If there are any requests, these will be negotiated between surveyors.
Here at Home Tales, we do have a recommended party wall surveyor that we work with frequently and for all Home Tales clients, they serve Notice(s) to any relevant adjoining owners you for our clients free of charge.
If you want to discuss your project in more detail, contact our team on 0207 043 2378 or email us at email@example.com. You can also book a consultation directly via our gallery here. We look forward to discussing your project in more depth.