Question

My house was built (about 25 years ago I think) up against my neighbours Victorian house, hence his gable end abuts mine (my  roof is higher) and there is no party wall as such. There is no gap front or back and his roof is lower than mine with stepped flashing chased into my gable wall brickwork. My neighbour has applied for consent to raise his roof line (to enlarge his attic accommodation), though it would still be lower than mine.

Am I right to assume that there is no party wall – legally speaking – given that each house is virtually freestanding, and would it nevertheless be covered by the Party Wall Act? If not, who owns the stepped flashing and can my neighbour remove it from my wall without my permission or insert one with our permission? If he needs my permission and I don’t give it what are his options?

Answer

From your description there is no party wall although the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 doesn’t just relate to party wall (that’s the etc. bit). As your house was built later presumably the builder got your neighbour’s consent to dress a flashing on to his roof covering.

Regarding the proposed work – raising the line of his roof and cutting the flashing in at a higher level is covered by the Act; Section 2(2)(J). Because it is a right given by the Act he doesn’t need your permission but he does need to serve a Party Structure Notice. Upon receipt of the notice you can dissent and appoint a surveyor if you are concerned about the works – it won’t stop the work going ahead but does mean that a Party Wall Award will be produced by the appointed surveyor(s) before it commences. Your surveyor’s reasonable fee will be paid by your neighbour.

Question

We currently live in an old terrace cottage and our neighbour is considering building an extension . The neighbouring property was built after the terrace was completed and you can still clearly identify the old cornerstones to our property and where theirs continues, I presume that this identifies the wall as a ‘Type B’ Party wall (covering the entire gable end of the terrace) .

However our neighbour owns roughly 2 foot of land overlapping the cornerstones (on plan there is a clear step between our building and garden). We would like to know if possible whether our neighbour is able to build right up to the boundary and attach to our wall?

Answer

If I’m picturing what you describe correctly then the answer is no – you neighbour would not have the right to enclose anymore of your wall than is enclosed by the existing building – only the area that is currently enclosed is a ‘Type B’ party wall. You could allow it but you would be within your rights to request compensation for allowing the use of your wall.

Question

I signed a party wall agreement allowing my neighbour to carry out a loft conversion and put in 3 steels.  What I did not know is that the wall in the loft is single skin.

The properties are terraced with a cavity wall to ground and first floor (which is a skin of bricks his side and a skin my side), however once you get into the roof space there is only a single skin of breeze blocks which was added years after the properties were built.  When in my loft, you can see right into the cavity of the 1st and ground floor, so you could almost say the breeze blocks are his side of the cavity for the floors below. 

My neighbour has put in the 3 steels and I can see all three of them in my loft space, one of them overlapping by some distance.  Is this single skin of wall in the loft classed as the party wall whereby he should only have gone 50% into the breeze blocks from his side?  Or is it the case that because the 1st and ground floor are double skin, his side of the party wall is classed as the full depth of the breeze blocks his side of the cavity for the floors below.

Answer

It appears that approximately half the thickness of the party wall was raised in the past by the owner of the adjoining property – the raised section is still a party wall even though it is thinner than the original party wall below. Presumably you could do the same on your side of the party wall if you wanted to convert your loft in the future.

Your neighbour does have the right to use the full thickness of the party wall to support his beams. It is considered good practice to only use half when the wall is thicker but he would not have had that option in this case as the beams require a bearing of at least 100mm.

Technically the beams can extend to the outside face of the original party wall although there is no structural benefit in doing that. If they extend beyond the thickness of the party wall below that is a trespass and you should request that they are cut back.

Question

My neighbour has consented to a party wall astride the boundary to enable us to construct a garden extension.  The wall will be a standard brick outer leaf, 100 mm insulated cavity with a block inner leaf.

Is there a recognised specification on how far over the boundary the party wall should be built?  Specifically, should the boundary line run down the middle of the cavity or down the middle of the outer brick leaf?

Answer



The new wall should ideally be centered on the boundary line.

Sometimes it suits a Building owner to keep it slightly more on their side when it is replacing and existing garden wall and they do not want to interfere with the Adjoining Owner’s paving etc.

Question

I live in a converted house with a ground floor flat (which I own) and 1st floor flat (owned by my neighbour). We both own a share of the freehold. I would like to remove a chimney breast inside of my flat which lies on the Party Wall. The house next door is also a converted house. My next door neighbours own their flats but are Leaseholders (over 80 years on their leases) and both have the same Freeholder. The ground floor flat is rented on a rolling 6 week period.

I have already had some conversations and serve a few Party Wall notices to my neighbours. So that I perfectly understand who to serve the notices to, do I serve

  1. my neighbour in the 1st floor flat above my flat (which I have already done)
  2. my next door neighbour who is renting the ground floor flat on a rolling 6 week period AND to the owner/ leaseholder of this flat
  3. my next door neighbour who lives in the 1st floor flat and the owner/ Leaseholder of this flat (which I have already done)
  4. AND to the Freeholder of the property in #2 and #3

Answer

You should serve notice on the leasehold owner of the corresponding flat next door and the Freeholder of that property.

The work would not be notifiable to the owner of the upper floor flat next door (unless that property is lower than yours and you therefore share a section of the party wall), the owner of the flat above yours/your joint Freeholder although it is likely that you will require a license to consent from them (check your lease).

Follow-up

I have now decided against fully removing the chimney breast. Instead, I am now considering only removing the center portion of the chimney breast so that a standard oven and hob with an extractor fan can fit into it (about 2m up from the floor) . I am not considering removing the top of the chimney breast.

Do I have to inform my neighbours under the party wall act?

Answer

It is the cutting away of the chimney breast from the party wall that makes the work notifiable. If you are only removing the central section and not touching those bricks that are bonded in to the party wall you will not need to serve notice. You may still require a license to alter from your Freeholder.

Question

We are building a single storey extension on the back of a mid terrace property and the work involves taking down the existing extension. One neighbour, who is the landlord of next door, has taken some photographs of the inside and outside of his property as a “statement of condition of the party walls and buildings prior to the commencement of the works”.

He has asked us to sign this as an acknowledgement of a true record of the condition of his house, and has asked us to sign to acknowledge that in the unlikely event of any damage we would not only have liability to repair the damage to his property but also a liability towards temporary housing of his tenants and loss of income and any other reasonable losses.  He has asked us to do this before he’ll sign the party wall notice. 

Should we do so, and how long is that statement of condition valid for, for example if a crack was to appear in 9 months time how could he prove it was due to our building work and how could we prove that it wasn’t?

Answer

If your neighbour is not willing to provide a ‘clean’ consent to your party wall notice I would take that as a dissent and get surveyors appointed so that an Award can be agreed.

You may want to point him towards a recent piece of case law where it was shown that an Adjoining Owner can still appoint a surveyor under the Act, for example to deal with damage that has resulted from the works, even if they consent initially. You can read a summary here – http://www.building.co.uk/legal/party-wall-act-good-news-for-good-neighbours/3118763.article (you can read this once without subscription so you may want to print it off).

Question

Are there any rights to install piled foundations (circa 6m deep) on the party line (the existing garden wall is to be knocked down and rebuilt as part of the extension).

In order to ensure the build runs smoother and we maintain a relationship with our neighbours we have compromised on design (will need amendment back into planning).  This compromise will be detailed within the consent letter that the neighbours send back.  Would we still be liable for the cost of a surveyor if they appointed one at a later date?

Answer

As the existing garden wall is being knocked down and replaced with the exterior wall of your extension it must be either a shared wall or in your ownership – either way you can place new foundations, piled or otherwise, on the boundary and project them on to the neighbour’s land if that is necessary.

Yes, if your neighbour has reason to appoint a surveyor at a later stage you will be responsible for that surveyor’s reasonable fee. The right to appoint surveyors after an initial consent was established in a recent court case. You can read a summary here - http://www.building.co.uk/legal/party-wall-act-good-news-for-good-neighbours/3118763.article

Follow-up

I was under the impression that I needed his consent to put ‘special foundations’ astride the line of junction; mu foundations are potentially 8m deep piles (likely reinforced).

Answer

Yes, special foundations below a party wall do require the Adjoining Owner’s consent. You should ask you neighbour to sign a letter of consent along these lines:

As owners of the above property we hereby consent to the construction of special (reinforced) foundations below the party wall between address/address in accordance with Section 7(4) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

Question

We bought a terraced cottage with planning permission for a single and two storey extension in November and immediately issued a Party Wall Notice to the neighbours on either side. One side replied immediately, and said they were happy with the proposed plans but would like to appoint their own surveyor.

I agreed to this, and finally tracked down the other neighbour to ask if they were happy to use the same surveyor. They said yes, but made it difficult for us to gain access to their cottage for the inspection, claiming that not only would they be at the cottage infrequently, but no neighbours held keys and they were unwilling to send their keys to the appointed surveyor.

Finally one date was set, but cancelled by the tricky neighbour a few days before. Finally a second date was set, and I scheduled the surveyor to come again. On the specified date the tricky neighbour, predictably, wasn’t at his house so only an external inspection could be made for the Schedule of Condition. Three days later I received an email from said neighbour claiming an emergency had prevented him from getting to the cottage.

He is now getting a quote from another surveyor (whom we suspect may be a friend of his). Given that we gave him ample opportunities to use our initial surveyor (which he had consented to in writing), are we now legally obliged to pay for the appointment of this additional surveyor? It does seem that this neighbour is using any tactic to slow down our progress.

Answer

If your neighbour has formally appointed a surveyor (i.e. in writing) that appointment cannot be rescinded (see Section 10(2) of the Act).
 
It will be up to the appointed surveyor (I’m assuming he is acting as the Agreed Surveyor) to decide whether the Adjoining Owner has been given ample opportunity to provide access for a schedule to be recorded. If he considers that it has he should complete the Award on the basis of the external schedule that was taken.

Question

We currently live in an Edwardian detached flat – we occupy the upstairs and the stairway – the neighbours occupy the downstairs flat.
 
We are building a new 1 bed separate flat in the loft space. The only impact we think this will have is a stairwell being put in – which would lay on our floor (does this need party wall notice?) and then we will need to erect scaffolding around the whole building, including on their private land.
 
Please can you let me know what party wall issues are included in this and what points I must give notice and get consent for?
Also do I need this before Planning Permission is given or can I do this after – and if so – is it 2 months or 14 days prior to work commencing.

Answer

Unless the construction of the staircase involves cutting in to a party structure (wall or floor) between the 2 properties the work will not be notifiable to the downstairs neighbour under the Party Wall Act.

Presumably you have a Freeholder? It is likely that you will have to obtain a license to alter from the Freeholder and part of that process will usually involve ensuring that the downstairs neighbour does not suffer unnecessary inconvenience and that a record of the condition of their property is recorded in case of damage – check the details of your lease.

Question

Our neighbours have already started work on a side extension (single storey), foundations have been laid. The foundations come very close to/abut the boundary line. This is approx. 1.4m from the side of our house.

  1. We received notification that building was due to start the day before the builders arrived.
  2. We have not received any details regarding the nature of the work other than that which was submitted for planning permission which the council planning department informed us of, not the neighbours themselves (council say it is a ‘permitted structure’ and doesn’t require planning permission).
  3. Neither the neighbours or the builders have told us how long the work is continued to go on for.

Are we correct in our understanding that the work in progress falls under the jurisdiction of the Party Wall Act and as such they are in breach of the Act?

Answer

If the new structure is ‘close’ to the boundary but not on the boundary then it is only the excavation work that may be notifiable – that will depend on whether they have dug down deeper than the base of your existing foundations. If they have they should have served notice under Section 6 of the Act (known as a ‘3 Metre Notice’) at least a month before commencing.

As the potentially notifiable part of the work has already been completed (the foundations) it is now too late to serve notice.  

Your neighbour will still be responsible for any damage caused by their works although it will be dealt with under common law rather than the dispute resolution procedures within the Party Wall Act.

Follow-up

Unfortunately the neighbours have failed to tell us what work they intend to carry out but we believe that they intend to build close to the boundary so that the eaves and guttering abut the boundary line (therefore the wall will be in the order of 6 inches (I guess) from the boundary. i.e. as close to the boundary as they can possibly get without being on or over it. Would this be notifiable?

Answer

No, the wall, rather than any projections such as guttering, must be on the boundary for it to be notifiable.