Party walls – We’re in the News!

Our Managing Director Bill McAndrew has written the Expert View column in today’s Portsmouth News property guide.
He has given an in-depth look at the thorny subject of Party Walls legislation, which can prove taxing for property owners and developers alike.
Bill’s column explains what to do if you are served with a Party Wall notice and some of the steps to take.
Party Walls are just one of the areas we specialise in, with many years of experience covering all types of Party Wall issues.
We try to contribute regularly to the Expert View column; our Consultant Ken Veness recently wrote a well-received column about boundary disputes.
Bill’s full column is below but you can also read it online on the News website at www.portsmouth.co.uk/lifestyle/there-s-no-need-to-panic-over-party-wall-notice-1-7205792.
There’s more details about our Party Walls services in the services section of this website at http://www.mcandrewmartin.com/node/18
You can also call us on 02392 697193 or email [email protected] for more details about how we can help you with any Party Walls issues.

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EXPERT VIEW:

By Bill McAndrew BSc FRICS, Managing Director of McAndrew Martin

Q: My neighbours are planning a loft conversion in the roof space of our adjoining semi-detached homes and have served me with a party wall notice. What does this mean?

A: Party wall regulations are among the most misunderstood pieces of legislation to affect homeowners. They can cause confusion and potentially result in delays and associated costs.

However, it is important to bear in mind that The Party Wall Act etc…Act of 1996 aims to protect both the building owner as well as the rights of adjoining property owners.

Essentially, it is a mechanism to avoid disputes by making building owners notify their neighbours in advance of certain works which may affect adjoining walls or boundaries.

These include extensions, re-roofing, underpinning, excavations for drainage, removing chimney breasts and, as in your case, loft conversions.

Firstly, if you receive notification, don’t panic. Your neighbour has done the right thing in serving you with the notice.

If you are happy with the proposed work, you must inform the building owner in writing; however, if you have concerns and wish to officially ‘dissent’ the notice you should also formally notify them.

It is worth noting that failing to respond to the notice means the matter automatically goes into ‘dispute’.

If you decide to dissent, there is provision for you and your neighbour to appoint an ‘agreed surveyor’ to act impartially to draw up an agreement called an ‘award’. Alternatively each party can instruct their own surveyors.

The ‘award’ will detail the work to be done, when and how it will be carried out as well as the rules builders must stick to. Importantly the award will record the condition of your wall prior to the work starting so reparations can be made for any damage.

It is important to note that compliance with party wall legislation is separate to both planning and -building regulations; however it is a similar statutory compliance matter.

There are strict timescales for the various stages of the process so you are advised to instruct a qualified party wall surveyor and member of the Portsmouth Property Association.

Cheaper online alternatives will prove much more costly and delay the project if any agreements aren’t watertight.

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