Party Wall Agreements- terraced cottage

2 Dec 2010
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United Kingdom
I feel sure many of you will have to had one of these agreements put in place. I have a terraced cottage with planning permission for internal re-organisation and a loft conversion. My architect told me that my Party Wall Agreement feel into place with the granting of planning permission. I have since found this to be untrue and have neighbours either side of my small cottage. Is it better to use one surveyor for all three parties or for me to engage a seperate surveyor although I know I have to pay all the costs for all three parties?

I decided to share the same surveyor as my neighbours and understood from the surveyor that this would make the negotiations easier and quicker. Although I know that the neighbours have received their letters and copies of plans, I do not yet have copies of those letters showing the date the letters were sent out. I have not received my contract to sign from the surveyor and he is not replying to my gentle email requesting a time frame for this agreement to be put in place and approximate cost for this agreement. Meanwhile, my builder is waitiing to start the work as soon as possible.

Unfortunately one of my neighbours is a difficult person who has great resistance to the idea of my internal changes and I suspect will play a difficult game throughout the alterations at my expense.

Can anyone give me the benefit of their experiences?

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Under what part of the Act has notice been served?

Your surveyor/agent can sign and serve notices on your behalf, so you may not have needed to see the notice

However, as there are set time periods before notice/agreement/award, you need to phone your surveyor up and ask him when notice was served, what if any agreement or negotiation has taken place and if the award has been made yet - if not when will it be

You are paying for all this so you don't expect him to dally around and then charge you a lot of hours for it

Bear in mind that if your neighbour chooses to, he can appoint his own surveyor at your cost
Thank you Woody, my two adjoining neighbours and I are supposedly using the same surveyor which is supposedly the most cost effective and easies way to resolve any misunderstandings. However, as I mentioned before, he has sent the two neighbours letters and plans with the 14 day reply notice but as yet, he has omitted to send me copies and the contract to sign to employ him myself. When I contacted him a week ago by 'phone he was terse in his reply, passed a comment about having many clients to satisfy and indicating I was demanding too much which surprised me as I have been very careful not to be pushy. When I have the date of the letters the neighbours received, I will have a clearer idea when an agreement will be in place. As you intimate, there will be more than one agreement, one for the loft conversion, one for digging down for foundations and building brick peers one the ground floor for steel which will be within one metre of each adjoining neighbours wall and one for the one room ground floor extension to be built in the spring of 2011 .

Of course, I am in the wrong begining work without the agreement in place however I used a local architect reccommended to me and am astonished that he gave me the wrong information with regard to Party Wall Agreements and then constantly told me that there were no Party Wall issues.

By nature, I always try to be considerate and negotiate wherever possible. I naturally wish to keep my costs to a minimum but I have a neighbour who has called out our supposedly joint surveyor at least four times at my expense of course. Should I be bitting the bullet and employing a seperate surveyor to look after my interests only or will that just encourage the present surveyor to make the whole thing as expensive as possible to my disadvantage? I have no idea what my finanacial commitment is likely to be as the present surveyor has declined to reply to my email on that subject or anything else that I have asked of him.

The whole business is making me feel very concerned and I have a builder waiting in the wings for a date to begin work. Any advice gained from experience would be welcomed.
You really need to sort out the appointment of your surveyor as this is a formal procedure and prerequisite of the Act. At the moment, you may not have formally appointed him, and so he may not be able to act for you and any award he makes may be invalid.

Also, presumably he is charging an hourly rate, so you need to be clear when he started to act for you and the other neighbours.

Be sure that the PWA does in fact apply. For your foundations, these may not be deep enough to invoke the Act. Likewise, piers can be built attached to, and not into walls and so again, the Act may not apply. For the loft, it depends what is being done

If you are not happy with this surveyor, then you should not use him, and engage someone else. However the problem with this, is that if he has already been formally appointed then the only way his appointment can cease is if he dies or if he becomes "incapable" of acting.

Finally, be sure that the surveyor does not use his appointment as a licence to print money. You should get a fully itemised invoice detailing his time. Check it carefully and feel free to challenge any excessive or seemingly incorrect charges or use of time
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All you state is relevant. The letter for appointment from this surveyor who as I have stated is supposed to be working for all three of us, has supposedly been posted to me together with copies of the letters send with copies of the plans, to both my neighbours. I will have to brave telephoning him on Monday morning and arrange to pick up copies of those letters and the letter of appointment.

Apparently all work within three metres of the adjoining walls requires the agreement and as the cottage is only 13' wide thats tricky! The peers have to be built on a concrete base 1 metre deep which is also difficult but not impossible.

I will let you know how I get on next week.
Apparently all work within three metres of the adjoining walls requires the agreement

This only applies to excavations within 3m and deeper than the neighbours foundations

So make sure this is the case, otherwise no need for the PWA and no fees either
Before you proceede any further and incur expense and confuse yourself further, I suggest you read this

At the initial stage you have no need to engage a surveyor just send a letter to your neighbours explaining your intentions(see the examples within the above link).
Personally speaking the PWA has little powers and there is no legal punishment for not serving a notice, Your neighbours cannot stop your works without a court injunction , especially if you don't need access to their land to carry out your works.
Until the final conditional award has been made then the PWA carries no basis in law other than those contained within the normal statutes.
Personally speaking the only time I would bother invoking the PWA is if I needed access to the neighbours land and they were refusing it.

You have a lawful right to develop through your planning permission and your neighbour can object all he wants he won't actually be able to prevent you carrying out the works , he will just be delaying the inevitable and deteriorating neighbourly relations further.
I hope he doesn't ever want to carry out his own building works

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