RMA Surveyors Ltd head for new horizons

Sunrise at Stonehenge

RMA Surveyors Ltd are pleased to announce that, with immediate effect, they will no longer be provided residential building surveys and RICS Homebuyer reports. Richard Mountain, Director, said:

“Our focus in recent months has moved away from the residential pre-purchase sector to focus more on our core expertise of dilapidations surveyor services, party wall surveyor services, project management and contract administration.”

“We have recently found our resources better devoted to our key sectors. Insurance reinstatement projects have really advanced, increasing capacity in this area has drawn our focus onto where our key strengths lie. The market potential is generally positive away from the residential market.”

Richard added, “The key focus for RMA is to streamline their services, ensuring strong potential in a more specialised market. “

Does the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affect me?

If you’re unsure if the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affects you, here’s some advice from the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors.


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 so you must find out whether the work falls within the scope of the Act. If it does you must serve the statutory notice on all those defined in the Act as ‘adjoining owners’.

Determining if a particular building project is within the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is often more complex than simply checking the general criteria stated above. Failure to correctly identify the status of your project could result in the building works being unlawful. If you are in any doubt you should always seek professional advice.

RMA Surveyors are experienced and professional Party Wall Surveyors. We act on behalf of building owners and adjoining owners, as well as agreed surveyors for both parties.

If you’re in need of a Party Wall Surveyor, contact us on 01635 579 208. We are members of Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

RMA Surveyors – Party Wall Surveyors

Experienced Party Wall SurveyorsRMA Surveyors in Newbury, Berkshire are experienced Party Wall Surveyors. Providing professional advice on what can seem a daunting and complicated matter.

We offer party wall surveying and advice in compliance with The Party Wall Act 1996.

We act on behalf of building owners and adjoining owners, as well as agreed surveyors for both parties.

If you’re in need of a Party Wall Surveyor, get in touch on 01635 579 208.

For further information on the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, take a look at the RICS Consumer Guide: Party Walls.

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. 

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

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. We are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd provides professional, independent advice.

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. ActSection 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the serving of counter notices.

Such a notice might be triggered where an adjoining owner has received a party structure notice from a building owner but does not agree with the proposals put forward within that notice.

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act allows an adjoining owner to serve upon a building owner a counter notice giving details of their requirements.

What can a Counter Notice request?

Paragraph 1a allows that adjoining owners may ask, where reasonably required, for a building owner to include such elements as chimney copings, breasts, jams or flues. It should be noted that this work would be done at the convenience of the adjoining owner.

Furthermore, an adjoining owner could serve a counter notice in respect of special foundations which the adjoining owner would consent under section point 7 of the act. He may request that the special foundations be placed at a greater depth than that proposed by the building owner or be constructed of sufficient strength to bear the load to be carried by columns of any intended building of the adjoining owner. Or both.

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 – Issuing a Counter Notice

If an adjoining owner decides to issue a counter notice, the counter notice should specify the works required, and should be accompanied by plans, sections and particulars of those works. It should also be served within a period of one month, beginning on the day on which the building owners party structure notice was served.

If a building owner receives a counter notice he should comply with the requirements of the notice, unless the works described within the counter notice would be injurious to him, cause unnecessary convenience to him or cause unnecessary delay in the execution of works pursuant to the party structure notice.

Where an adjoining owner issues a counter notice it would be dealt with by the surveyors as a dispute will deemed to have arisen and owners can not determine a dispute themselves but it is the responsibility of the adjoining owner to serve the notice, and not the surveyor, unless the surveyor has been given the authority to do so. In practise it is unusual for counter notices to be served, however, the Act does allow for counter notices to be served and there are occasions where it is necessary to issue a counter notice.

Need advice?

If you have any Party Wall concerns or feel that a counter notice needs to be served under Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, then please call us for advise on 01635 579208.

RMA Surveyors are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

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.

Building Work to a Party Wall

Are you Planning Building Work to a Party Wall?

Are you planning building work to a party wall or structure that you share with your neighbour? Is your neighbour undertaking building work that will affect your property?

Building Work to a Party Wall Can Be a Matter For the Courts

If you are planning building work or your neighbour is proposing work that affects a party wall or party structure then there is a legal requirement to meet the provisions of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.  If your property is in England or Wales, this legislation must be followed. The law does not apply in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

What Is a Party Wall?

A Party Wall can be defined many ways. Principally it is a wall that sits across the boundary between two or more properties, such as the dividing wall between adjoining houses. It could also be the dividing floor between flats.

The Act also protects structures that stands completely on one owner’s land. Sometimes this can be astride the line of junction and can be used by both owners. i.e. Where one owner has built a wall and the adjoining owner has built up against it enclosing the structure. In that particular example only part of that wall might be considered a ‘party wall’.

Properties that are completely independent of one another can also be subject to the Act. If a building owner is planning to undertake excavations up to 6 metres from an adjoining owners structure there may also be a requirement to adhere to the Act.

A ‘party fence wall’ is a wall that does not form part of a building and stands on land belonging to different owners. This could be a garden wall, but does not include a timber fence.

There are many instances where the Party Wall Act may or may not be relevant. For this reason we always recommend it is assessed by a professional to assist, who both knows the workings of the Act and has technical construction expertise.

Does the Party Wall Act Apply To Me?

Providing the structure or structures in question meets the definitions within the Party Wall Act there is ikely to be a requirement that works need to be agreed with the adjoining owner. Simple works, such as installing shelves, replacing electrical sockets or wiring, does not require an agreement. But you should only do certain building work to a party wall or party structure once the adjoining owner or owners have been formally notified in writing and agreed the works in advance of works proceeding. Examples of notifiable party wall work might include ork includes:

  • Cutting into a wall to take the weight of a beam or insert a flashing.
  • Inserting a damp proof course.
  • Demolition, reconstruction or underpinning a party wall.

If you’re planning to undertake excavations there are some comprehensive requirements defined within the Party Wall Act, that need to be properly understood to determine whether the Act applies.

When Does Party Wall Notice Need To Be Served?

If you are planning to undertake building work to a Party Wall then we suggest you inform your neighbour in good time. This is the most critical step and can often prevent unnecessary and costly dispute later on. The purpose of the Act is to avoid disputes arising by making sure owners are aware and agree the Party Wall works.

Where applicable you must notify your neighbour in writing before building work to a party wall begins. There is a minimum period for this notice to be served before building works affecting the party wall or structure can commence. If there is more than one person with an interest in the property (i.e. Leaseholders and Freeholders. Again these are clearly defined in the Act) you must notify all of them. If there are multiple properties affected they must all be notified.

The Act is specific about the requirements of issuing notice/s. It is very important that valid notice or notices are served. If notices are not valid they will need to be served again correctly and this will reset the minimum period.

What Happens If An Adjoining Owner Does Not Agree to Party Wall Works?

If an adjoining owner does not agree to works then a dispute is deemed to have arisen. Parties in dispute are not able to act as a surveyor for themselves . They need to appoint someone who can act independently. Owners may agree to appoint a single ‘agreed surveyor’, or they can each appoint their own surveyor to act upon their behalves. The expert or experts will agree the parameters of how the works should be carried out and will serve a ‘party wall award’ which will stipulate how works affecting the party structure will be completed.

The award usually contains a schedule of condition of the affected elements of the adjoining owner’s property before work begin. This provides an accurate record of the condition of the building prior to works so damage (if any) can be properly defined after works have been completed.

RMA Surveyors are Chartered Building Surveyors, Members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. We are experts in party wall matters. If you need advice in relation to the Party Wall Act contact us for clear and reliable advise.

Party Wall Notice

Being unaware of a duty to serve Party Wall Notice under The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is not a defence. Some people do not factor in the costs of compliance with The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 before they commence works. Some choose to ignore the legislation, in the belief they are saving themselves time and money. This incorrect course of action leads to delays to their project, neighbourly dispute, possible court action and associated costs.

Party Wall Notice will prevent court action

The Requirement For Party Wall Notice

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 requires Building Owners to serve relevant party wall notice to Adjoining Owners up to 2 months before notifiable works commence. When party wall notice is not served and it can cause friction between neighbours. In the worst case scenario where works have begun Adjoining Owners can apply to the Court and gain an injunction against the works. There are upfront costs for doing this, which are usually recoverable from a Building Owner. What Building Owners can also overlook by neglecting to serve notice is that certain rights granted by the Act are also not invoked (such as access in their neighbour’s land, to undertake notifiable works).

In many cases serving party wall notice is simple. By notifying a neighbour that works are going ahead there is less likelihood of a dispute occurring. Issuing notice/s with a polite letter explaining what the works are is far cheaper and easier than a court injunction and costs, then living with the resulting bad feeling.

Ignorance Is No Defence

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is now well established legislation. There is no good reason to ignore it. The courts will invariably find against anyone who does, either wilfully or through genuine ignorance. The cost of not serving a valid party wall notice may prove to be the costliest oversight of the whole project. The adage of Ignorantia iuris nocet applies. Not knowing the law is harmful.

We Can Help

If you are having works undertaken to your property that is likely to affect your neighbour’s property contact RMA Surveyors Ltd and we will be pleased to assist you serving the correct notice to avoid future and costly disputes. RMA Surveyors Ltd are members of the RICS. Please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Need a Party Wall Award?

party wallHaving recently undertaken Party Wall Award Notices in Windsor, Newbury and Leckhampstead. RMA Surveyors Ltd are experienced in providing advice in compliance with The Party Wall Act 1996, throughout Berkshire and the South-East.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

The Act is separate from obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval. It provides a mechanism for preventing and resolving disputes relating to building work near or on a shared property boundary, or ‘party wall’.

If you require advice on a Party Wall, contact us on 01635 579 208.

For further reading on Party Walls visit the RICS information page.