Often, the first time that an Adjoining Owner becomes aware of the Party Wall Act is when a notice drops through their door. There are 3 types of notice that a Building Owner may serve upon an Adjoining Owner to make them aware that he intends to carry out work which falls under the scope of the Act.
1. Party Structure Notice
Party Structure notices are covered under section 3 of the Act although they cover works notifiable under section 2 (2) (a) to (n). Generally speaking these are alterations to the party Wall itself and include common jobs such as: cutting holes to insert beams and padstones, cutting in flashings and removing chimney breasts.
The notice period is 2 months and the following information must be included for the notice to be valid (although it does not have to be on a prescribed form):
- Name and address of the building owner
- Nature and particulars of the proposed work
- Date on which the work will begin
2. Notice of Adjacent Excavation
Notices of Adjacent Excavation are concerned with works notifiable under section 6 of the Act. There are two types of excavations that are covered under section 6:
- Excavating within 3 metres of your neighbour’s building and to a depth lower than the bottom of their foundations
- Excavating within 6 metres of your neighbour’s building, if any part of that excavation intersects with a plane drawn downwards at an angle of 45 degrees from the bottom of their foundations, taken at a line level with the face of their external wall (this will normally mean that you neighbour is using piled foundations).
The notice must contain the same information as a Party Structure Notice but also plans and sections showing the proposed excavation and a block plan showing the location of the new building or structure.
3. Line of Junction Notice
This is the least common of the notices and is served under section 1 of the Act and again covers two distinct tasks:
- The construction of a new wall adjacent to a boundary.
- The construction of a new wall astride a boundary.
With each of these types of notices the adjoining owner has 14 days to respond before they are automatically deemed to be ‘in dispute’ and obliged to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor.
If the adjoining owner does not respond to a section 1 notice relating to a neighbour’s intentions to build a new wall up to the boundary, the work can commence when the notice period has expired. The Building Owner may place any necessary footings and foundations (with the exception of reinforced foundations known as ‘special foundations’) under the adjoining owner’s land.
The building of a new wall astride the boundary is the only type of work covered under the Act which the adjoining owner can prevent. If the adjoining owner does not respond in writing within 14 days the building owner will have to build the new wall entirely on his side of the boundary line. Again the Building Owner may place any necessary footings and foundations (with the exception of ‘special foundations’) under the adjoining owner’s land.
Notice can be served in person or by post. If the adjoining building’s owner’s name is not know the notice can be served on “The Owner” although in this situation it has to be either delivered personally or displayed on a conspicuous part of the premises.
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