Can a Letter Serve as a Party wall Notice?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

I currently have a 2.75m extension across the back of my property, attached to this is my neighbours “lean to” which is approx 2m in depth.  I now have planning and building permission to extend my extension out to 4m and to build a single story extension out to 3m on top of this. The single story extension is not on my “neighbours” side-it is next to a shared drive.

I have been given and seen lots of information, on the internet, regarding the “Party Wall” but am unsure how this affects me or what I really have to do?  Is it just a case of giving my neighbour a letter stating when the building work is to start or does it have to be something official? Do solicitors and/or surveyors have to be involved?

Answer

If the building of your extension involves excavating within 3 metres of your neighbour’s lean-to and deeper than the base of their foundations you are required to notify your neighbour in accordance with Section 6 of the Party Wall Act. There is no ‘official’ notice as such but the Act confirms that it must include certain information to make it valid i.e. the full names and address of both owners, a brief description of the work, a drawing showing the position and depth of the excavation and the proposed start date (it should not be within 1 month).

Solicitors do not need to be involved and you can serve the notice yourself. You will find a draft in the Government explanatory booklet. On receipt of the notice your neighbour can either consent or appoint a surveyor. If they appoint a surveyor (whose reasonable fee you will be responsible for) you must also appoint a surveyor and the two surveyors will agree upon and serve an ‘Award’.

It was not clear from your email whether your plans would affect the structure of your neighbour’s lean-to. If it relies upon your building for support then you will need to ensure that the support is maintained and it is properly weathered during the course of the works and on completion.