Party wall confusion

20 Apr 2021
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United Kingdom
Hi all,

We live in a terraced Edwardian house. Neighbours currently have a partially completed loft conversion - has power, water, some insulation. They are having a dormer put in as well as a bathroom.

We are yet to see any plans and they seem to be pretty unsure about what a party wall agreement is and equally I am unsure if they need one with both us and their other neighbour.

My thinking is that we need to see the plans to see what joist work/ additional works need to be done to the party wall to establish whether a PWA is needed. And that any agreement needs to be put in writing 2 months before the works start.

They want to start on 26th July. Not great timing as we are all still WFH and the source of the noise will be 5m from my office. I'm guessing they will also need scaffolding in our back garden area to get full access.

All useful info on the Party Wall greatly appreciated. Thanks heaps
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The only aspect of a loft conversion/dormer extension that typically falls within the Party Wall Act is if they are installing steel beams that have to be cut into the party wall. The other, which is less common, is if they want to raise the party wall to form the sides of the dormer.

How you proceed depends on how well you get on with your neighbours. If you trust them then you could agree to any notice they serve on you and let the works proceed. If you don't trust them and don't mind about straining any neighbourly relations then you could dissent if they serve notice and either appoint your own party wall surveyor or agree to both share an independent party wall surveyor to keep the costs down.

If the neighbour does not understand the Party Wall Act and do not realise they need to serve notice and cannot be persuaded by a friendly chat then usually I would suggest you contact a local reputable party wall surveyor. They should be able to write a letter to "nudge" the neighbour explaining their legal obligations to consider the party wall act to see if the work falls under the act and "mark their card" that if they wilfully ignore the act and it turns out the work will impact the party wall then they will be looking at a hefty legal bill.

As for noise, bear in mind that any restrictions imposed by the party wall award can only apply to the limited works directly affecting the party wall, so cutting the holes for the steel beams. All the other building work associated with a loft conversion are not controlled and are therefore only subject to the usual restrictions on noise which are fairly lax.
Have you checked on the local to you planning portal run by the local Authority? should be some details in there?

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