- Joe Bleasdale
Party Wall Matters, Part II: Invalid Notices and How to Avoid Them
Party Wall Notices may be straightforward to a specialist surveyor, who work with them everyday, but to the average property owner, they can be hugely confusing. Over the years, Prince Krofa & Sons has seen all sorts of mistakes on Party Wall Notices that have rendered them invalid, and this can lead to significantly added costs and delay to works. Here are some things to look out for if you are thinking about submitting a Notice.
This article is a follow-on from our blog from Wednesday on how Prince Krofa & Sons can assist you with Party Wall Matters.
1) Names, Addresses and Common Typography Mistakes
It may not seem like anything other than common sense, but it does affect a lot of people writing Notices, many of whom have never had to do it before.
The Party Wall Act etc. 1996 makes it extremely clear that, for a Notice to be valid, ALL of the Building and Adjoining Owners’ names must be present on the document, as well as their full addresses, in order to make it clear for whoever receives the Notice (not just the owners, but architects, surveyors and anyone with a stake in the works) where the works are taking place, and who for. So clear, in fact, that even one missing name can render the entire Notice invalid.
In the past, Notices have contained no address at all, some have missed out street names and postcodes, and in some cases, they have only given a house or flat door number.
Notices must be served to the Owners as confirmed with land registry or leaseholder with more than one year’s interest in the property.
2) Start Date of Works
Even if you do not know the exact start date of works when the Notice is sent, you must at least give an indication in order for it to be valid.
One of the most common solutions to this is to use the statutory time frame of “1-2 months from the date of the Notice”, as is detailed in the Party Wall Act.
3) Mistakes Specific to Excavation Notices: Drawings / Underpinning
If you are looking to send a Notice regarding excavation works, e.g., to accommodate foundations for a new extension, you need to provide three pieces of information:
a) How far away from the Adjoining Owner’s property the works will take place
b) Drawings of the proposed works
c) Whether underpinning (the laying of a solid foundation below ground to support or strengthen the Adjoining Owner’s building) is being undertaken.
4) Leading Notices
A Party Wall Notice from a Building Owner must NOT lead the Adjoining Owner in a certain direction and should include options about how the course of works could play out.
The Adjoining Owner must have a say on the works themselves, as well as timeframe, access to their property and the ability to appoint a surveyor, either agreed or of their own choosing.
5) Familiarity with Procedure
It would be useful to check through the contents of the Notice with the Adjoining Owner and, if it is possible, other Building Owners, to ascertain that all parties can understand the requirements and look for any typos or missing information.
You should familiarise yourself with the specificities of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, and it may be worth
informing the Adjoining Owner by placing this link in the Notice:
You must make sure the contents of the Notice specifically meet its requirements.
There are a number of websites and companies that claim to be able to assist you in drafting the Notices yourself in the hope to save money further down the line, some free and some for a fee. However, in many cases this has proved very costly, or unreliable and a waste of time.
Prince Krofa & Sons recommends that, when recommending a surveyor to serve a Party Wall Notice, the surveyor is a specialist in Party Wall Matters. Our surveyors have decades of experience in this field and have seen examples of invalid Notices served by other surveyors, as well as architects and project managers, in addition to property owners.
Choosing and recommending Prince Krofa & Sons will guarantee a service centred around utmost impartiality, dedication to our practice and quality performance, with full respect for the needs of all our clients.
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