Make sure your party wall agreements are in place
Whenever you are considering any kind of building work, it is vital to ensure all the necessary permissions, documentation and agreements are in place before starting.
It is also worth have a good understanding of any building regulations you will need to adhere to so you can ensure everything carried out will pass ongoing inspection.
Your architect, project manager and local planners should be able to advise and guide you through these difficult requirements as trying to navigate them yourself can often be a minefield.
This is where you have to give any adjoining owners notice of your intentions if you plan to build on or at the boundary between properties.
This might include work on an existing party wall or party structure or digging below and near to the foundation level of a neighbour’s property.
They then have the opportunity to agree or disagree with what you are proposing – and in the event they disagree, you can work through certain steps to try to find a resolution.
A party wall is a wall that stands on or between the land of two or more owners and either forms part of a building or is a garden wall.
However, walls on one owner’s land used by other owners to separate their buildings may also be considered party walls.
Once you have given your neighbour notice of your intention to carry out work on or near the wall, they must respond in writing.
This would either be to give consent, refuse consent or request their own additional works be carried out at their cost at the same time.
If they refuse, then you must appoint surveyors to draw up a document (a “party wall award”) agreeing exactly what will be carried out, how and what the costs will be.
If your neighbour refuses to appoint a surveyor, then you can do so on their behalf.
If either party disagrees with the award, then the case might need to go to county court.
The aim, however, is always to ensure these types of situations are resolved as amicably as possible – and this is where having a professional involved from the beginning can help.
A party wall agreement will protect you from claims from your neighbours and possible future legal costs.
If you proceed without one and damage is caused, you could find yourself on the back foot before you have even put a defence together.
But perhaps even more importantly, neighbourhood harmony is important.
After all, you want to keep living happily beside your neighbour, for many years to come, as you continue to enjoy your beautiful extension or your renovated home.