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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    • CommentAuthormarsaday
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010
    Does anyone know much about the party wall agreement. i understand it is a layer of bureaucracy designed to fleece the building owner. I intend to convert my attic and half the new floor will be hung off the party wall. What if i dont serve a notice and do the work anyway? I really cannot see what damage hanging a new floor will cause.

    the wall is 230mm thick brick. i will drill into it 85mm. joist hangers will then be bolted to the wall. the imposed load = 3.75kN per metre. i understand this is a light load.

    i ask the question because i really resent having to pay a surveyor £600 for 2 visits to the house.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010
    Talk to the neighbour

    Tell them what you plan to do

    give them 2 months notice in writing

    If they say nothing then you should be OK

    It is a very good idea to take some photos of the party wall both sides if possible.
    • CommentAuthorMike George
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010 edited
    I'm not sure whether there are any exclusions but the Act is available here: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/partywall

    I have been involved with several loft conversions [both design and construction]. None of the Clients enagaged a Surveyors to offer Party Wall services.

    Have you considered asking your neighbours if they are prepared to grant you prermission to do what you propose?
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010 edited
    Edit: Looks like someone beat me to it...

    There is a guide to the Party Wall Act (it's a law not just an agreement) here...


    First thing to do is read it and find out if the Party Wall Act is even applicable to the work you want to do. It might not apply as you can do some things to a party wall without needing to comply with the PWA.

    _IF_ the PWA applies then you need to follow the proceedure in the act (it's all in the guide). Basically you have to inform the neighbour x weeks before work starts and get their agreement in writing. Take care to get the wording of the notification and the agreement they sign right. If they agree then that's the end of the matter and you can start work. No surveyor required.

    If they aren't happy you will probably have to employ a party wall surveyor as the neighbour can insist. They have the power to give you the go ahead but will also look out for the neighbours interest. For example he might insist you or your builder has insurance in case you cause damage to their property. The surveyor may also want to see structural calculation but you will probably need those for Building Control anyway.

    Main thing is to keep on good terms with the neighbour as they have to power to make things expensive for you. The worse thing you could do is just start drilling one sunday am. Most likely they would call the council who would probably refuse to help but might suggest they speak to their solicitor about the PWA. If they were really unhappy then few hours later you might be hit with an injunction stopping you working - only that would cost them quite a lot of money. I believe the penalty for not complying with an injunction(s) includes prison in extreem cases.

    As far as I can tell the PWA itself has no associated penalty for non-compliance. However I believe if there is any damage the burden of proof changes. eg If you comply with the PWA it's down to the neighbour to prove your work caused the damage, but if you don't comply then it's down to you to prove it didn't.

    See also..

    • CommentAuthormarsaday
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010
    It is sorted and the neighbours are fine about it. i just think it is unfair that they could demand a surveyor at my cost. i understand if i was excavating a basement and so affecting the foundations etc, but on a loft conversion i think it is a bit unfair. in this case however, they do not want a survey - just gripping about the law
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010
    I would still take pictures of both sides of the wall to cover yourself and get it in writing --- thanks for agreeing to let me go ahead with my loft job which involves....
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010
    Posted By: marsadayIt is sorted and the neighbours are fine about it. i just think it is unfair that they could demand a surveyor at my cost.

    Look at it the other way around. Suppose you lived next door to some idiot who proposed to do a major DIY job involving removal of a chimney in the party wall but leaving the stack right above your bed?

    Would you be happy paying for a surveyor when he's the one wanting to do the work?
    • CommentAuthorgeorgiegirl
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010 edited
    In an effort to avoid using a Party Wall Surveyor we offered our neighbours the £700+vat cost of a surveyor for them to keep in a bank account until the end of our renovation. We requested that they take photos and said that if there was any damage to their property that they believed to be caused by our build that they could use the money given at the beginning. If on the other hand there was no damage then they would return the money at the end of the build.

    Unfortunately our neighbours didn't take us up on our offer - a decision I think they lived to regret. They thought that we had somehow created a leak around their Velux window. The Party Wall Surveyor disagreed and they had to pay for the repair and redecoration themselves. If they had taken us up on our offer they could have repaired the problem and hopefully there would have been a balance to return.

    It caused a lot of upset that they didn't accept but at the end of the day they were within their rights by law to insist on a surveyor.
    I can understand the neighbour's reluctance, they might have been risking signing away their legal rights if things had gone wrong.
    In effect you were offering them a wager "Here's £1000, I bet you our house doesn't fall down as a result of my DIY activities. If it does, you can keep it. If we are both still standing, I'd like it back."
    Thanks for your comments. We weren't doing it DIY we had reputable builders doing the work. If they had taken us up on the offer and the money they had taken didn't cover the work then we had stated that we would pay the balance. We were happy to have it in a contract so that everyone knew where they stood. As I said before the surveyor said the leak wasn't down to our work - but it could have cost us more if they had taken the offer, a chance we were willing to take.
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