Are We Being Unreasonble in Appointing a Surveyor?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

Our neighbours have been given planning permission for a two storey extension on their detached house next to our detached house.  They will be building at about two metres from our house wall and will certainly be having deeper foundations (ours are about 18 inches) . They want to start work immediately but have not given us any notice under the Party Wall Act and not discussed it with us at all.  Because of the size of the extension I felt we should have a surveyor to monitor the building and have just appointed one, which may lead to delays.   Our neighbours are now furious and say that we are being obstructive and that in most cases the Act is not invoked.  But, as I understand it, it is the law and an Award under it may be important if we wish to sell our house.   Could you let me know if we are indeed being unreasonable and acting out of line with common practice.

Answer

It is correct that if your neighbour plans to excavate within 3 metres of your building and to a depth greater than your foundations the work will be notifiable under The Party Wall Act.

If your neighbour has not served notice then you cannot have appointed a surveyor – you are merely being advised by a surveyor at this stage. Even when notice has been served it is not essential to appoint a surveyor but you do have the right to do so if you have concerns about your property. The matter should have no bearing on any future sale of your property as in many cases adjoining owners consent to the works and there is no formal award document.

Follow-up

Thank you very much indeed for your reply which was much appreciated. It was both reassuring and informative and helped us finally to decide to agree to our neighbours’ building plans despite the absence of the correct notification in the interests of future harmony!