Do I need a Party Wall Surveyor?

By Nathan Foley | 12 April 2024 | General

I get a lot of emails from residential dwellings with excellent relationships with their neighbours who are happy for the works to go ahead, in many occasions I have seen what was a good relationship sour because someone become confused agitated by something they have read from a party wall professional.

So I think it’s worth raising the important statement, you do not need a party wall surveyor to send notices for you, to amend and annotate plans, to provide for section 8 access or even to do a schedule of condition. Really? Yes Really!

There is nothing within the act or case law which requires you to have a surveyor draft your notices. There are templates available all over the internet for them and you can view ours here at the bottom of the page, you are taking responsibility if you get it wrong, your duty particularly in regards to section 6 notices will be to mark up the plans detail the depth location etc to comply with the requirements of the notice.

One thing I would say about notices is the more details, the easier it is explained and referenced to the plans and there property the more likely you are to get consent and a fully understood neighbour.

So understand your notifiable work, grab a coffee (and maybe some cake) and study the works and the community guide which can also be found in the same place as the notice templates, I would suggest you spend your time accurately describing the work, markup an a4/a3 copy of the plans depending on detail highlighters and doing it by hand is perfectly acceptable.

You’ll need to make sure that your notice includes an ability to respond (Our templates do) and you’ll need to make sure they cover all the notifiable work and the drawings are appropriately marked up.

You can now serve your notices, either by delivering them by hand to your neighbour having a coffee and a chat about the works answering there questions or just through there door.

Notices are served what about a schedule of condition?

If your neighbour is worried about damage or you are and they agree there is nothing to stop you from both recording your own schedule of condition the linked article would be good to read for when you need one, and also some of the things included, once you’ve done it print it out or write and email and you both agree to it and you now have a schedule of condition for any damages, there is nothing within the act that requires you to even have a schedule of condition let alone that it has to be a surveyor obviously there are advantages and disadvantages it to doing it between neighbours but it can be done.

Section 8 Access

So we’ve covered most of the things and assuming you’ve been given consent and your neighbours in agreement the only other things to do is begin the works (when the notices have expired) or with express permission earlier.

One thing I suggest you agree up front at this point is how and when you will need access to your neighbours properties under the act, document it explain it, and ideally sign and agree to it doesn’t mean they can change there mind.

This at least gives you a frame work to work to, you have a right of access but its not carte blanche it has to be for notifiable work it has to be legal and it has to not cause unnecessary inconvenience to the adjoining owner (Your neighbour) and this can be complex, so keep it short and sweet and work with your neighbour you have the right of access but they are being good to you, so remember this.

Pay them for the inconvenience or to re plant the garden after you’ve finished, take them for dinner at the end of the job invite them in to see the progress nurture this relationship it will save you money.

So why do I even need a party wall surveyor?

We have one sole job and that is to settle disputes inline with Section 10 of the act, so if there is no dispute there is nothing for us to do, neighbours can agree to anything between themselves we are there to deal with the times you can’t agree or when damage is caused. Don’t forget unlike an award any agreement between you and your neighbour is unlikely to be binding (Unlike an award to settle a dispute) they are entitled to change there mind so if they’ve agreed access and change there mind that’s allowed to happen and it can open up complex situations and disputes for you which will cost more to deal with than having a surveyor on board from the start but these are the rare occasions.

So the key takeaways

  • Notices the more detail there is the clearer the works are discribed the better
  • You can agree between you to sort out access, schedule of conditions and even serve your own notices
  • ALWAYS discuss access early (as early as possible)
  • Document, sign and agree (maybe even try and agree an agreed surveyor early on in case of issues)
  • Foster that relationship
  • SURVEYORS settle disputes and that can happen even after the notice has been agreed and the work has started they still have the right to appoint a surveyor / agreed surveyor.

If you need any assistance from a party wall surveyor please don’t hesitate to contact us.