How The Party Wall Can Affect Your Loft Conversion
Depending on your property’s structure, undertaking a loft conversion may involve encroachment on a wall that stands between you and your neighbours. This shared wall is known as a ‘Party Wall’.
In order to advance any building in range of this Party Wall, you will need to abide by the guidelines outlined in the ‘Party Wall etc. Act 1996’. You will furthermore need to arrive at a mutual agreement between affected Party Wall owners.
Adjoining wall owners who may be affected by your building plans will need to be notified of your intentions in advance. You might choose to do this in a friendly, informal discussion prior to confronting them with the paperwork they will need to sign. Let them know what to expect and give them the platform to voice any concerns or reservations. Try to take these into account wherever possible. Reassure them that the work will be conducted mindfully, and the perimeters kept tidy, and give them an estimation of the time frame for the project.
Do I Need Their Written Permission?
Yes. Your Party Wall neighbours will need to sign the counterpart of the Party Wall Notice. They have three options at their disposal:
- To approve the stipulations of the agreement.
- To not approve the stipulations of the agreement. Where this cannot be resolved, they may appoint a recommended surveyor to mediate both parties and reach a settlement. This candidate is known as the Agreed Surveyor.
- To not approve the stipulations of the agreement, and subsequently appoint a surveyor of their own choice, rather than accepting a recommended surveyor.
Can My Neighbours Refuse?
Not outright. But while the affected Party Wall neighbours cannot prohibit you from undergoing a loft conversion or other renovation on your property, they do hold some authority over when and how the construction can take place. It’s best to reach an amicable agreement wherever possible to avoid delays to the project or escalations to legal representatives.
What If They Don’t Respond?
In the instance that a neighbour fails to respond to your party wall notice after 14 days, or otherwise where they dissent to the conditions of the party notice but don’t provide a surveyor, you are entitled to serve them a notice requesting they take action. This second notice holds a ‘10 day’ grace period, after which you may appoint your own surveyor. Your surveyor will have the legal authority to hold a due appointment under the rules of the ‘Party Wall etc. Act 1996’. You will unfortunately be responsible for the surveyor’s fees.
How Do Surveyors Operate?
Most Party Wall notice agreements are signed with consent from both parties without requiring third party interference, but should a dispute arise, you or your neighbour may choose to elect a Party Wall surveyor. The surveyor will remain an impartial figure dedicated to finding a legally sound, mutually beneficial solution for owners on both sides of the wall. They will have a more comprehensive view of the law and will be better suited to guiding the outcome.
How Long Can The Party Wall Notice Delay Proceedings?
The Party Wall acknowledgement form, which requires the relevant neighbour’s signature, must legally be settled within 8 weeks. At the end of this period, the Party Wall acknowledgement form is obliged to be signed. The neighbouring owner of the Party Wall may only decide whether to sign of their own volition or alongside a surveyor.
Where Can I Get More Information About Party Walls?
You may obtain more information regarding party walls from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister directly, or via their website.
Where Can I Get a Party Wall Document Template For My Neighbour To Sign?
There are several free Party Wall document templates available online.