Party Wall Surveyors in Devon
Looking for Party Wall Surveyor services in Devon? Members of the Devon Surveyors Network can help you avoid or resolve any disputes or disagreements with your neighbours when carrying out renovations, alterations or making structural changes to your home
The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls in Devon, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. A building owner proposing to start work covered by the Act must give adjoining owners notice of their intentions in the way set down in the Act. Adjoining owners can agree or disagree with what is proposed. Where they disagree, the Act provides a mechanism for resolving disputes.
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TYPES OF WORK COVERED BY THE PARTY WALL ACT
Notifiable work under the Party Wall act falls into three distinct categories, each corresponding to a different Section of the Act:
SECTION 1: NEW BOUNDARY WALLS
The most common type of new building is the construction of a new wall up to (but not beyond) the boundary, which is technically referred to as a 1(5) wall. Adjoining Owners can incorrectly believe that any new walls need to be set slightly back from the boundary (typically because their architect told them this when they built their extension 20 years ago) but this is not the case. As long as all elements including roofs, gutters and fascias do not protrude, the wall can be built right up to the boundary and does not require the neighbour’s consent.
A less common wall type is a 1(2) wall, which is built 50/50 on the boundary and does require the Adjoining Owners’ consent. This is advantageous to the Building Owner as they gain a slightly larger extension, whilst the Adjoining Owner gets a party wall that they can then build off with their own extension in the future (unlike a 1(5) wall which they cannot).
SECTION 2: WORK TO A PARTY WALL
The Act lists 14 different work types that fall under Section 2, with the vast majority falling under only half a dozen sections. Below are the most common types of work to a party wall:
2(2)(a): Underpinning a party wall which is necessary for basement excavations but can also be required for extensions where existing foundations need strengthening. This also applies to the raising of party wall, most commonly where parapet walls are raised to accommodate a loft extension.
2(2)(b): Repairing or demolishing and rebuilding a party wall where such a repair is warranted.
2(2)(f): Cutting into a party wall for steel beams (loft conversion, removal of structural walls), joist hangers or waterproofing lead flashings.
2(2)(g) Cutting away from a party wall, typically in the case of chimney breasts or structural walls.
2(2)(l): Raising or demolishing and rebuilding a garden party wall and rebuilding to accommodate the flank wall of an extension.
2(2)(n): Exposing a party wall, subject to adequate weathering.
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SECTION 3: EXCAVATIONS
This section of the Act applies to excavations for foundations that are within 3 metres of a neighbouring property and deeper than their existing foundations. The majority of Devon housing stock is either Victorian or built in the 1930s, and their foundations rarely exceed 30cm. However, proposed foundations will have to be a minimum of 1 metre deep to satisfy current Building Control requirements.
This section can also apply to shallower pad foundations or where entire sections of land are lowered.
THE PARTY WALL PROCEDURE
SERVICE OF NOTICES
Building Owners must notify all affected Adjoining Owners of proposed work that falls under Sections 1, 2 and 6 of the Act. Due to the complexity of the process, this is normally undertaken by an appointed surveyor but some homeowners choose to serve notice themselves. Sections 1 and 6 have notice periods of 1 month whilst for section 2 it is 2 months.
Upon receipt of a notice, an Adjoining Owner can consent or dissent. Here, it is worth noting the unhelpfulness of the wording as Owners are not consenting or dissenting to the work taking place. They are simply confirming whether they wish to appoint surveyor(s) to represent their property interests.
The different responses are:
- DISSENT AND CONCUR IN APPOINTMENT OF AN AGREED SURVEYOR
- DISSENT AND APPOINT THEIR OWN SURVEYOR
SCHEDULE OF CONDITION
This is a photographic and written record of the Adjoining Owner’s property before work starts, which allows the surveyor(s) to determine whether damage has or has not been caused.
AGREEING THE PARTY WALL AWARD
The Award (often incorrectly called a Party Wall Agreement) sets out the parties involved and the notifiable work and determines the manner in which it is to be undertaken and its timings. Surveyor(s) may for example, require that cutting into the party wall for steel beams be undertaken with hand tools only, or that excavations close to the Adjoining Owner’s extension be dug in 1m sections rather than in one go.
Once the content of the Award, including any relevant drawings, is concluded, the Award is then served on both owners. The Building Owner can now legally start work, subject to the passing or waiving of any notice periods.
FINAL INSPECTION UPON COMPLETION OF WORKS
Here, the surveyor(s) check off the Schedule of Condition and, if all is well, close the file. If damage is noted, then the Adjoining Owner can either have the Building Owner’s contractor make the repair or receive a payment in lieu and instruct their own contractor.
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With professional help, you can simplify the process of altering a party wall in Devon while complying with the law and minimising the risk of disputes and costly setbacks. Members of the Devon Surveyors Network can help leaseholders, homeowners, landlords and investors save time, money and effort, and always provide free quotes upfront.
Our members prevent and resolve any disputes arising from changes you plan to make to your property that could affect theirs. This includes party walls, shared boundaries and excavation work within 3-6 metres of their property. With oprofessional help from our party wall surveyors in Devon, you can improve your home and increase its value, stress-free.