On this page you will find helpful answers to the most frequently asked questions we encounter.
If you cannot find the answer you are looking for (and even if you have) please feel free to contact us or call 020 3503 0688
Who pays your fees?
Usually it is the party undertaking the work (called the “building owner”) who pays for party wall surveyor’s fees. There are some very exceptional circumstances whereby you may be liable for some fees although you will usually be well aware of this long before having to do so. In the vast majority of cases (probably in the order of. 99.99%) it is the building owner who pays.
If my neighbour is paying your fees does this mean you will give them the benefit of the doubt?
Party Wall Surveyors are independent people who administer an Act of Parliament neutrally. Their role is less like “going into bat” for their client (typical of how solicitors operate) and more like a referee in a sports match: upholding and applying the law and rules fairly and evenly to each side. It is irrelevant who pays the fees: your neighbour receives no special or biased treatment.
My neighbour told me that they don’t need to serve notices because their new foundations will not be going any deeper than mine. Is this true?
This is correct if true, however your neighbour will need to explain how deep your foundations are (and how they obtained this information) and how deep their new foundations will be. Typically, foundations even for small extensions and light-weight structures such as conservatories will be a minimum of 1metre deep.
As a very general rule-of-thumb most houses constructed before the 1980s will tend to have shallower foundations than new foundations today but even this loose rule has proven to be untrue in the real world and we have needed to serve notices on developments whereby the neighbouring properties are only a few years old.
Amazingly, original Victorian foundations are often found to be only a few inches deep! Always keep in mind that the onus is on your neighbour to prove that they do not need to serve notices if they intend not to, rather than it being your job to prove that they do..
What happens if my neighbour just starts work without serving a notice?
Sadly the Party Wall Act alongside many Acts of parliament was enacted with the intention that people would follow it where required. Of course there is nothing physically preventing a person from starting works without serving party wall notices, just as there is nothing physically preventing people from driving cars without insurance and nothing physically preventing a person from watching Television without a licence. This being said, there are secondary penalties, (some which are severe) your neighbour may suffer for non-compliance. For example, your neighbour may struggle to sell their house in the future if they cannot provide the necessary documentation required under the Party Wall Act.
This does not mean your neighbour is entitled to do whatsoever they like because they will not receive any direct punishment for non-compliance: you can obtain an injunction from your local court if your neighbour does start work without serving notices. It is possible to recover these costs under your party wall award, meaning that your initial outlay will be recovered, minimising your overall risk.
I have received a letter from you which I did not ask for. How have you got hold of my details?
We use a regulated and professional data-handling company to provide us with such marketing information which usually comes from either freely available planning lists, electoral roll registers or third party marketing lists. Please contact us immediately if you have any concerns about this.
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