How To Get A Party Wall Award
Most homeowners planning a house extension will need to get a Party Wall Award for the work. The Party Wall Act sets out what you need to do, but it’s hard to follow and can leave you confused. In this post we will show that the process can be simple and easy.
A 6 Point Plan
This is our simple 6 Point Plan to get a Party Wall Award for a house extension. Follow these 6 steps and it should help the process go smoothly, before and during the build.
Need some advice on Party Wall Awards for your extension? Just get in touch and we will be happy to help.Email 2PM
Do You Need A Party Wall Award?
Unless you live in a detached house, with a good distance to each boundary, then the answer to this question is likely to be yes. But it is good to take a look at what part of the extension means the Party Wall Agreement is necessary. It will also affect the type of notice you need to send when you get to Step 3.
Can You Need More Than One Award?
Yes, you might well need more than one award. For example you might have answered yes to more than one of the questions above and need several types of party wall award. It is quite common, in fact the sketch shows a project where we needed 4.
- The loft extension (Red) needed a Party Structures Notice.
- The garden wall (Pink) needed a Line of Junction Notice.
- The rear extension (Orange) needed a 3m Notice of Adjacent Excavation.
- The side extension (Green) needed a 6m Notice of Adjacent Excavation.
Show Your Neighbour Your Plans
OK. We know this can be tricky sometimes, but it can help to let your neighbour see your plans before sending them a party wall notice. We’ve found that there are a few good ways to do this.
- Pop round or invite them over for a cup of tea and show them your plans and drawings. Talk them through what you are planning, and listen to any concerns they might have.
- If talking in person is not for you, then an informal letter or email, perhaps with a drawing attached or at least an offer to provide them, can be helpful.
- If neither of the above appeal, then perhaps a quick meeting with your architect and neighbour is the way to go. Your architect could host this, explain the extension design and make sure everyone is happy.
How Will This Help With The Party Wall Award?
What you are aiming for here is to make sure that your neighbours are happy with the plans. Or at least that they understand what you are planning and why, and that it will be done properly. They may have a genuine concern which you would be happy to address. Remember that the next step will be to send them a formal notice, and it will really help to reduce costs and delay if they agree to consent to the notice; so it’s worth spending a bit of time on this.
Serve The Right Party Wall Notices
This step is a bit more technical. You could appoint a Party Wall Surveyor for this, but for those who prefer to send the notices themselves there are some free online Party Wall Notice Templates.
The key thing is to make sure that you serve the right type of notice for your type of project. This is where it is good to refer back to the sketches in Step 1. The possible types of notice are:
- Party Structure Notice.
- Line of Junction Notice.
- Adjacent Excavation Notice.
The right type of notice to use will depend on the work you are planning to build. Quite often more than one type of notice will need to be sent.
Who Do You Need To Send Party Wall Notice To?
You need to send Party Wall Notices to all of your neighbours that fall under any of the criteria for party structure, line of junction or adjacent excavation notices. Often this will simply be the neighbour on each side on the house, but you might also need to serve different Party Wall Notices to different neighbours. If any of the properties are leased or split in to flats then notices will be needed to all of the adjoining owners. If that’s the case for you, then we would suggest getting a Party Wall Surveyor to check out all the details before serving the notices.
Drawings For Party Wall Notices
You also need to send the right information with the notices. This usually means drawings that are detailed enough to show the work. Planning drawings are not normally detailed enough for this. What you really need are detailed technical or structural engineering drawings showing the planned foundations and construction. So the right time to serve the Party Wall Notices is usually at the end of Technical Design.
That Can Be It!
If your neighbours receive the Party Wall Notices and sign them to consent to the work, then great! That’s it. You can miss out the next bit and jump ahead to Step 5. Otherwise, if there are any problems getting their consent, go on to Step 4 below to find out how to get it solved.
Use A Party Wall Surveyor
So despite your best efforts back in Step 2, it might be that when your neighbour gets the notice, they don’t agree to it. This could be because they have a problem with the plans, they are not sure or even just because they have forgotten to sign the notice in time (they have 2 weeks).
What Happens If My Neighbour Does Not Consent To The Notice?
Whatever the reason, a ‘dispute’ is said to have arisen if the neighbour has not agreed to the notice. It sounds bad, but actually it’s not uncommon and there is a solution.
How To Solve A Party Wall Dispute
The easiest way is to agree with you neighbour to appoint an independent Party Wall Surveyor to draw up and make a fair Party Wall Award for the work. This should give your neighbour the reassurance that they are after, and allow you to get on with your extension.
The alternative (which your neighbour can insist on) is that you both have separate Party Wall Surveyors. But you would have to pay both sets of fees, so this tends to take longer and be more expensive. Another good reason to spend a bit of time talking with your neighbour at Step 2 to try to get their agreement.
Get A Schedule of Condition
Before starting any building work, it is a really good idea to take photos and record a Schedule of Condition of all the areas close to the Party Wall.
This will be a clear record that both you and your neighbour can keep. The idea is that it stops any claims that damage has been caused that was actually already there. But it also allows any damage or cracks that are caused by the building work, to be identified and put right. This is good for everyone.
A Party Wall Surveyor will do a Schedule of Condition as part of their normal work. But if you have sent the notices yourself without a Party Wall Surveyor then make sure you do your own Schedule of Condition. Ideally get two copies, both signed by you and your neighbour, and keep a copy each
Start Work at The Right Time
The Party Wall Act sets out a notice period of 2 months for most types of party wall notice that would be used for an extension. This means that the work should not be started on site for 2 months after the notice is agreed, or a party wall award is made.
However, usually your neighbour would be prepared to waive the notice period, so that works can start straight away after the agreement. It is not normally in anyone’s interests to cause delay, but it is worth checking.
Once you have the agreement it is normally valid for 1 year, so you need to get the works done in this time to avoid having to serve a new notice.
A final tip is to make sure that your builder has copies of the Party Wall Awards, and make sure they know to build the work as set out in the awards.