Our Buyer has asked to see our Party Wall Agreement

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

I am in the process of selling my semi-detached property. I had a conservatory constructed in September 2008, with one of the conservatory walls being the outside wall of my neighbour’s house (the party wall in question). We are already attached to this neighbour with our lounge wall and the conservatory is just an extension of this. At the time the builders began work but stopped immediately due to a dispute with my neighbour who was threatening a court injunction because she had not been issued with notice of the work. My partner and I were away at the time but the builders spoke to my neighbour on our behalf and resolved the dispute. We were informed by the building company that a party wall agreement had been signed and my neighbour had agreed to the work.

As part of the selling process our buyers solicitor is asking for the party wall agreement of which we don’t have and our builders don’t have. I have tried to get retrospective agreement from my neighbour who has sent a letter stating that she did agree to the work but didn’t sign a party wall agreement. Before signing a retrospective party wall agreement she wants a surveyor to confirm her house is not devalued by the conservatory. I have spoken to a few surveyors and they all say they can provide some sort of paper work but would all add a disclaimer as they cannot see the foundations.

I cannot see any benefit from paying for a surveyor now especially if they add a disclaimer and also as surely a surveyor’s report would have been part of any original searches of the house as part of the 
buying process. I am not sure how to resolve this – does my neighbour still have a justified dispute? what options do I have? From what I can gather, if my neighbour was still unhappy after consulting with my builders she should have requested work stop and issued a surveyor at the time.

Answer

The first thing to make clear is that there is no such thing as a retrospective party wall agreement.

The key question here is whether you had the right to build your conservatory against your neighbour’s property and I’m sure that is what your buyer’s solicitor is interested in. You refer to the wall as a party wall – if you are correct in that assumption then you did have a right to build against it. You should have served notice on your neighbour but as the work is now complete it is no longer a party wall matter.

If your neighbour consented to the work there would not have been a party wall agreement, however, their consent should have been in writing. I would recommend that you tell you buyer’s solicitor that the neighbours consented to the work so there was no requirement for a party wall agreement but neither of you realised that the consent should have been in writing.