If your loft conversion involves cutting into a party wall, then the work will fall under the Party Wall Act 1996. Party Wall Notices must be served on your neighbours who share your party walls before work on your loft conversion or house extension commences. These notices give your neighbour the right to appoint a surveyor to safeguard their property during your work. The Party Wall Act also safeguards your interests as any existing defects on your neighbour’s property will be recorded prior to your work commencing. Such permission is in addition to the local authority and Building Regulations, all part of the required prerequisites you need before any building commences
You will be required to serve a notice on your neighbours, notifying them of the proposed work If your loft conversion/ kitchen extension falls under the Party Wall. The type of notice you will need to serve is a Party Structure Notice under Section 3 of the Party Wall Act. The notice must be served at least 2 months prior to work commencing on your loft conversion/kitchen extension and must include the following information:
- Name and address of the building owner (giving the address of where the work is proposed)
- Name and address of the person or party upon whom the notice is served
- Specific details of the proposed work under Section 2 of the Party Wall Act
- Proposed start date of the work
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Your neighbour can choose to do any of the following:
- Consent to the Notice or Dissent of which a good reason will be given if consent is not given. The planning surveyors will take steps to address their consent and get you their consent
Party Wall Surveyor
A Party Wall Surveyor is usually a qualified building surveyor with expert knowledge of the Party Wall Act. Their role is to undertake an inspection on the Adjoining Owner’s property to report and record the condition of the properties both before and after your loft conversion. In addition, the surveyor(s) will produce a document called a “party wall award” which is the legally binding document required to authorise your loft conversion. This is to establish whether the work has caused damage to your neighbour’s property. If no cracks were recorded in the party wall before your loft conversion began and a considerable crack appeared after completion in the area of one of your structural steels or timbers which were cut into the party wall, the surveyors would usually determine that such the work was responsible for the defect and it would need to be fixed.
The building surveyor will generally charge at an hourly rate to undertake the inspections and serve the necessary documentation. Usually, as the party undertaking a loft conversion, you will be responsible for paying all surveyors’ fees. Your neighbour may choose to appoint a different surveyor to the one who you appoint, which is normally the most expensive option. If you and your neighbour use the same surveyor (this is known as an ‘Agreed Surveyor’) then you’ll usually find that this is the least costly option. So speaking to your neighbours before serving the notice would be a good idea.
Whilst the appointed surveyor cannot take “instructions” from you in the sense that you give instructions to a solicitor, he or she will usually listen to any specific concerns you may have. You should approach your appointed surveyor first if you have any questions or concerns.