Do I need a Party Wall Surveyor?

Party Wall SurveyorYou may need a party wall surveyor if you intend to carry out work which involves the following:

·         Work on an existing wall, ceiling or floor structure shared with another property

·         Building on or at the boundary with another property

·         Excavating near a neighbouring building or structure

If you’re planning any of the above, it is advisable to call a party wall surveyor to determine whether the work falls within the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

If you do not comply with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 by serving the necessary notices and obtaining the necessary agreement or resolving matters by way of an award, your building works could be delayed, declared unlawful, possibly incurring legal claims and costs against you. In order to be clear if your planned work comes within the Act, you should seek professional advice from an experienced party wall surveyor.

Contact RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 for guidance on the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 or to enlist our services as a Party Wall Surveyor. We are members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors. We provide Party Wall surveying and advice in compliance with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. We act on behalf of building owners and adjoining owners, as well as agreed surveyors for both parties. 

 

Party Wall Process

The Party Wall ProcessThe Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is designed to avoid and minimise disputes. It makes sure property owners notify adjoining owners in advance of proposed works. However, the Party Wall process can seem daunting and/or complicated. To ensure peace of mind that you are following the correct procedure when it comes to your building work, contact RMA Surveyors, Newbury Berkshire to help guide you through the Party Wall process.

RMA Surveyors provide expert advice on the Party Wall process, as one client recently gave testimonial to:

We appointed Richard Mountain of RMA Surveyors to act on our behalf, as our neighbours had commenced work excavating right next to our house, without serving a party wall agreement.  Richard’s knowledge and expertise helped resolve the issue and allowed our neighbours build to continue whilst protecting our property, which was our biggest concern.  Unfortunately our neighbours chose to ignore the first award and we had to engage Richard again to go through another award.  He worked extremely well to support us and offered a voice of reason to ourselves, our neighbours and the barrister we had to engage.

Richard gave us the confidence that we needed throughout the entire process.  His is extremely thorough and practical, his communication was very proactive and he dealt with sensitive issues in a professional and timely manner, often coming out at short notice. I would fully recommend Richard for any party wall agreement.” (February 2018)

RMA Surveyors provide Party Wall surveying and advice in compliance with The Party Wall etc. Act 1996.  We act on behalf of building owners and adjoining owners, as well as agreed surveyors for both parties. RMA Surveyors are members of The Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors, so you can feel confident that you’re receiving professional advice and guidance.

Contact RMA Surveyors to discuss your needs on 01635 579208 or email enquiries@rmasurveyors.co.uk.

Does the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affect my building work?

Party Wall etc. Act 1996“Does the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affect my building work?” is a question that RMA Surveyors in Newbury, Berkshire have often been asked.

If you have plans to carry out the following type of work on your property then you should seek professional advice regarding the Party Wall Act:

– Work on an existing wall, ceiling or floor structure shared with another property,

– Building on or at the boundary with another property,

– Excavating near a neighbouring building or structure.

By seeking advice from a party wall professional, you can determine whether your proposed building work falls within the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, enabling you to respond accordingly and within the Law.

RMA Surveyors are expert Party Wall and Chartered surveyors, members of both the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. With such accreditation, you can rest assured that RMA Surveyors will provide you with the quality advice and service that is required.

Contact RMA Surveyors for advice or help with the Party Wall process on 01635 579208 or email enquiries@rmasurveyors.co.uk.

Testimonial, February 2018:

“We appointed Richard Mountain of RMA Surveyors to act on our behalf, as our neighbours had commenced work excavating right next to our house, without serving a party wall agreement.  Richard’s knowledge and expertise helped resolve the issue and allowed our neighbours build to continue whilst protecting our property, which was our biggest concern.  Unfortunately our neighbours chose to ignore the first award and we had to engage Richard again to go through another award.  He worked extremely well to support us and offered a voice of reason to ourselves, our neighbours and the barrister we had to engage.

Richard gave us the confidence that we needed throughout the entire process.  His is extremely thorough and practical, his communication was very proactive and he dealt with sensitive issues in a professional and timely manner, often coming out at short notice.

I would fully recommend Richard for any party wall agreement.”

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the disputes that arise under Section 3 and Section 4 of the Party Wall Act.

As already established in Section 3 and Section 4 of the Party Wall Act, Section 5 deals with disputes that arise when a party structure notice or a counter notice has been served.

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act begins by setting out a time frame period by which an owner who is in receipt of a served notice must respond. This period is 14 days, and if the owner does not consent within this period, then a dispute is deemed to have arisen.

This section is an extremely small section of the Act and it simply consists of a single sentence. Although it does not state it within Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act, if a dispute is deemed to have arisen during or after that 14-day period then the dispute would be dealt with under Section 10 of the Party Wall Act.

A time period is necessary to allow a building owner to proceed with the party wall process, rather than be scuppered at the first hurdle, where an adjoining owner may decide to ignore the notice.

Despite the 14-day period, even if a decent is deemed to have arisen, owners can still agree at any time during the party wall process to consent to the works. If written consent is given, then there is no need to continue to pursue a dispute process.

If you require Party Wall advice, then contact us 01635 579208. Proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd provides professional, independent advice.

 

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the requirements for issuing a Party Structure Notice.

Before a building owner can exercise any right conferred to him under Section 2 of the Party Wall Act he should serve on an adjoining owner a Party Structure Notice stating his intentions.

What should a Party Structure Notice contain?

A party structure notice should be served to the adjoining owner 2 calendar months before the works are due to begin. Although there is no express requirement within this section to include a date on the notice it is implied by the Act’s stipulation of the notice period. The notice will cease to be effective if the works in which it relates do not begin within 12 months, beginning with the day of which the notice was served and if the work is not undertaken with due diligence.

A Party Structure Notice should include the name and address of the building owner, as well as the particulars and description of the proposed works. In cases where the building owner is seeking to construct special foundations, then plans, sections and details of these foundations, together with structural engineer calculations of the loads to be carried, should also be included. The notice should also include the date on which proposed works are due to commence.

Serving Notice

Notices under Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act pertain only to Section 2 of the Act. It is deemed by party wall professionals that the format of notices under this section should also be applied for notices of adjacent excavation as well as line of junction notices.

If a notice is not served then the Act is not invoked, nor are the rights conferred under the Act. Notice can be issued by anyone, although in our experience it can be easy for the lay person to make a mistake on a notice which can invalidate it. We advise clients that the cost is minimal and it is usually best to allow us to issue valid notice/s on their behalf. If an invalid notice is served there is a possibility that notice will need to reissued leading to inevitable delays. It should be noted that Party Wall Notices are legal documents.

When a notice is served by another party on behalf of the building owner it should be made clear that this is the case on the notice. The person serving notice should have written authority to do so. A party wall surveyor serving notice is acting as an agent at this stage, not a party wall surveyor. Party Wall Surveyors can only be appointed as a Party Wall Surveyor once a notice has been served and a dispute has arisen. Appointment of Surveyors is covered under Section 10 of the Act.

Agreement to a notice can be given at any time, even if the process of dispute has commenced. An adjoining owners consent to any notice must be in writing. Party wall notices become legally binding documents and any consent given needs to be documentable. This prevents any potential misunderstandings once works are underway.

If you require advice regarding Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act or indeed any Party Wall matter, contact us on 01635 579208.

Section 2 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 2 of the Party Wall etc. ActSection 2 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the rights of owners in regard to repairs of  party wall or structure.

Section 2, Rights of Owners

Section 2 of the Party Wall etc. Act confers the following rights to owners:

  • Requires that a building owner gives notice to an adjoining owner where a party wall or party fence wall or building belonging to him is already in place and he intends to underpin, thicken or raise a structure . The section allows the building owner to make good, repair, demolish or rebuild if the structure is in some way defective.
  • Allows a building owner to demolish a partition which separates buildings belonging to separate owners and does not conform to statutory requirements, and rebuild that wall to meet such requirements.
  • Allows a building owner to demolish arches or structures over public highways or over areas belonging to other persons that connect buildings, and rebuild them to conform with statutory requirements.
  • Allows a building owner to demolish a party structure that is weak or of insufficient height and rebuild it to sufficient strength or height for their purposes. It also allows the rebuilt structure to build to a lesser height or thickness providing the rebuilt structure is of sufficient strength and height for the purposes of the adjoining owner.
  • Allows a building owner to cut into a party structure for any purpose (this might include inserting a damp proof course).
  • Allows a building owner to cut away from a party wall any footing or projecting chimney breast or flue or other projection, in order to erect, raise or underpin a wall.
  • Allows a building owner to cut away or demolish part of any wall or building of an adjoining owner which overhangs the building owner’s land or a party wall to the extent it is necessary, to enable a vertical wall to be erected or raised against the wall or building of the adjoining owner.
  • Allows the building owner to cut into the wall of the adjoining owners building to insert a flashing or other weather proofing.
  • A building owner can execute any other necessary works incidental to the connection of the party structure with the premises it adjoins, and to raise a party fence wall or any such wall for the use of a party wall. It also allows to demolish a party fence wall and rebuild it as a party wall.
  • Allows a building owner (if served with an adjoining owner counter notice to maintain the height of a wall) to reduce, demolish and rebuild a party wall or party fence wall to a height of not less than 2 metres where the wall isn’t used by the adjoining owner, other than for boundary purposes, and to a height currently enclosed upon the building of an adjoining owner.
  • Allows a building owner to expose a party wall or party structure previously enclosed providing adequate weathering is installed.

Section 2, Additional Rights and Clarifications

Section 2 of the Party Wall Act clarifies certain matters pertaining to the above rights.

Where a building owner proposes to:

  • underpin, thicken or raise a party structure (and this work is not necessary on account of defect or requiring repair)
  • demolish a party structure of insufficient strength or height for the purposes of the building owner and to rebuild it to the sufficient strength or height
  • cut into a party structure for any purpose, cut away from a party wall, a party fence wall or external wall any footing or projecting chimney breast or to cut away and demolish parts of a wall or building from the adjoining owner which is overhanging their land
  • cut into the wall of an adjoining owner in order to insert a flashing or other weather proofing

Then these rights are only exercisable subject to the building owner making good any damage caused by the work to the adjoining premises, furnishings or decorations. The installation of any flues or chimney stacks need to be agreed in regards to height and materials between the owners.

In the case where an adjoining owner has issued a counter notice to maintain the height of a wall and a building owner has opted to build a wall or a party fence wall to a height not less than 2 metres or a height currently enclosed upon by the building of an adjoining owner, then the building owner must reconstruct any parapets or replace an existing parapet with another and may construct a parapet where one is needed but did not exist previously.

The building owner may exercise rights granted under Section 2 of the Party Wall etc. Act, providing he has consent in writing from the adjoining owner and the adjoining owner’s occupiers (if necessary).

Contact RMA Surveyors for professional advice on 01635 579208. RMA Surveyors are proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors.

Party Wall Notice Requirement

Party Wall Notice RequirementParty Wall Notice Requirement – Party wall notices are required where a property owner (The Building Owner) is planning works that are likely to affect a neighbouring owner’s (The Adjoining Owner) property.

The definitions of the Party Wall Act Etc. 1996 are clear and explain the circumstances where notice is required to be served, as well as the types of structures that are covered by the Act.
For example, we recently had an enquiry from somebody concerned that the tree on their property was likely to be affected by the neighbours building proposals. They were disappointed that, as a Party Wall Surveyors, we were unable to assist them. The party wall act does not define trees as a party structure.

That said, the definitions of structures that can be affected are not restricted to walls that separate adjoining buildings. Section 6 of the Party Wall Act is often flouted where Building Owners do not realise that where works involve excavations within 3 (or in some cases 6) metres of an Adjoining Owner’s structure, and to a depth lower than their foundation, then notice must be served.  Furthermore, Section 1 of the Party Wall Act requires notice to be served when the building owner is building on the line of junction. This can mean a party wall or a party fence wall. The definitions of a ‘party fence wall’ are provided within Section 20 of the Act, it is a wall that is not part of a building that stands on lands of different owners. However, timber fences are not considered party fence walls.

RMA Surveyors are proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, providing clear and professional advice on Party Wall matters.

If you need to understand your Party Wall Notice Requirement then contact us on 01635 579208.

RMA Surveyors reports RICS latest survey

RMA Surveyors reports RICS Residential SurveyRMA Surveyors, Berkshire, have been reading the latest residential news from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The RICS UK Residential Market Survey for September 2016 states that ‘confidence is starting to recover following the immediate reaction to the EU Referendum, as the UK residential market experiences a slight upturn in August’.

In brief it highlights that:

  • House price rises regain some momentum
  • Sales hold steady after four successive monthly falls
  • Buyer enquiries and sales instructions continue to slip – but at a greatly reduced pace.

Click to download the full RICS UK Residential Market Survey, Sept 2016.

RMA Surveyors Ltd

As chartered surveyors we continue to be chosen for our professional services with regards to Homebuyer Reports and Building Surveys, Party Wall Matters and Project management work.

If you’re in need of the services of RMA Surveyors, please contact us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

Party Wall Flow Chart

Experienced Party Wall surveyors, RMA Surveyors in Berkshire, can provide advice on Party Wall matters and act on behalf of building owners and adjoining owners.

If you’re unsure whether the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies to your situation, take a look at the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS) useful (guidance only) flow chart.

If you need professional advice, call RMA Surveyors, proud members of the FPWS, on 01635 579208 or contact us via our enquiry form.

Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors

If an owner wishes to undertake works that fall within the remit of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 then it is their statutory duty to inform their neighbour(s) by serving a party wall notice.

The following diagram is a flow chart that sets out a step-by-step guidance only of what to do.   Please, however, contact a member for professional advice:

Party Wall diagram

 

 

Homebuyers Report Uncovers Serious Drain Defect

Homebuyers report discovers partially blocked drain

Drain partially blocked by tree roots

While undertaking a Homebuyers Survey on a four bedroom detached house in Highclere, RMA Surveyors, Newbury, highlighted a list of defects where further investigation would be required.

Notably, we found evidence of a partial blockage to the drain, believed to be caused by tree roots. We reported this back to our client in the Homebuyer Report.

We recommended the client commission a CCTV survey of the drain runs, as this would provide a clear diagnosis of any problem.

The client had the drains checked by a drainage specialist, who discovered there were bush and tree roots present in all of the drain runs.

As a consequence, insurers would only provide buildings insurance if subsidence was specifically excluded from the policy. This was a big risk for our client as we also noted some evidence of subsidence to a subsidiary structure at the premises within the same survey. The insurers stipulated that all drain repairs must be undertaken and a further structural survey be carried out prior to any policy being agreed.

As a result, the Mortgage company refused to lend and their mortgage offer was withdrawn. This defect was not picked up by the mortgage valuation survey as these types of survey are very limited in scope.

Why Get a Homebuyers Report?

By commissioning a Homebuyers Report, the client saved valuable time and considerable future expense and inconvenience.

It is important to remember that a mortgage valuation is not a survey. It is undertaken on behalf of the lender, not the purchaser and only serves to determine whether or not the property provides enough security for the bank to lend upon.

This case proves that a Homebuyers Survey and Report does save our client’s money. A property purchase is one of the biggest investments you will make, and commissioning a Homebuyers Report or Building Survey will provide peace of mind that the investment is a solid one.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a property and require a Homebuyers Report or Building Survey, please get in touch with RMA Surveyors Ltd for a quote. Call us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.