“What happens if my neighbours refuse party wall notice?” is one of the most common questions homeowners ask in relation to party wall matters prior to building their extension. It is also an inaccurate one. Your neighbours cannot refuse your party wall notice, but they can dissent, or fail to respond to it.
If they happen dissent or fail to respond, we know that at least one (in case of a joint) Surveyor or two (in case of separate) Surveyors will need to be involved in the process, as will some form of formal paperwork.
That paperwork will come in one of two forms; either a schedule of condition or a party wall award, or both. A schedule of condition is an impartial report that documents the state of repair of a property at a given point in time. Although there is no set format to a schedule of condition, it usually consists of a written report together with supporting photographic evidence. Some reports are video recorded with commentary. They are essentially inventory reports in which the Surveyor systematically walks through the property precisely detailing the condition of what she sees; if there’s a crack in the wall, where does it start; where does it end; how wide; how deep. A schedule of condition serves as a yardstick to baseline the condition of a (neighbouring) property prior to the commencement of building work, so that changes that occur after the completion of work can be truthfully measured.
A party wall award is a legally-binding document setting out how works will be carried out in relation to the party wall between you the homeowner, and the adjoining and/or nearby neighbour(s). It is drafted by your Surveyor and the neighbour’s Surveyor and importantly sets out how the objection triggered by the act of neighbours dissenting or not responding, will be mitigated. The award comprises of the proposed plans with detail of works to the party structure; the schedule of condition (if carried out); working hours; access arrangements to the adjoining property (for scaffolding, side wall rendering and such); any special conditions as to how works must be executed; details of financial protection (insurance, contingency held in escrow) and the process to tackle any remedial works should the unfortunate occur.
So even if your neighbours do ‘refuse’ party wall notice, they cannot stop you from building. They can however make doing so cost more and they can delay the start of works. So it is always best to issue notices cordially and early so to reduce friction through the process.
Next, let’s look at terrific tips on handling difficult neighbours.
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