Party Wall Agreement Loft Conversion: The Facts
Before you proceed with your loft conversion project, you may need to draw up a Party Wall Agreement.
This is a legal agreement which helps minimise the impact that the work may have on your neighbours and help protect the interests of all parties involved.
For that reason, you should always seek professional advice before you make any changes to your home.
We’ve put together a short article which covers what you need to know about party wall agreements to help you get started. It includes advice on whether the rules apply to your project, what happens if you need to serve a Party Wall Agreement, and what happens if your neighbour objects.
What is a Party Wall Notice?
A Party Wall Notice is the document that officially informs your neighbours of what you intend to do and is best prepared by an expert such as a surveyor.
The surveyor will ensure that the legal side of matters is dealt with, that the notice has been properly served and help the process run as smoothly as possible. It’s important to get this right as any mistakes at this stage could leave you liable in the future.
This document should include:
Your name and address
The address of the building where the loft conversion is to be carried out
A full description of your conversion including plans and drawings
The proposed start dates
There are also several rules which govern the Party Wall Notice. These include the following:
The notice must be served at least two months before the intended start date.
The owners must have the right to consent or to raise objections regarding the work.
The notice must be served to the legal owner of the property (not always the person living there).
The notice must give the owners the right to instruct their own surveyor.
The owners must have the right and opportunity to safeguard their own home as work is carried out.
The notice must include all information as required in the Party Wall Act.
Once the notice has been served, your surveyors will follow a certain procedure to ensure that all affected parties can reach an agreement.
What should you do if your loft conversion requires a Party Wall Agreement?
If you believe that you need a Party Wall Agreement for your loft conversion, it’s always a good idea to have an informal conversation with your neighbours about your proposed loft renovations. This will help build the relationship you have with these neighbours, warn them in advance of the work and encourage them to as cooperative as possible.
Even if this feels like a difficult conversation to have, it’s worth doing as it could save you precious time and money in the future. You will still need to present a Party Wall Notice and follow the required procedure as outlined in the Party Wall Act, but the process should become much smoother.
Once you’ve done this, you should hire a party wall surveyor who can prepare and serve a Party Wall Notice.
What happens when the property owner agrees?
The property owner, also known as ‘adjoining owner’, then has 14 days in which to respond to the Party Wall Notice and appoint their own surveyor if required.
If they don’t respond within this time, your surveyor can serve a further notice which gives them an additional 10 days to respond.
If they agree immediately then you won’t need a Party Wall Agreement and the work can go ahead on your loft conversion.
However, if they don’t reply within the allotted time or they don’t agree, then a surveyor will be appointed for them and the matter will go into dispute.
If they don’t agree with your proposals, they might serve you a counter notice requesting that you make changes to your project. If this is easily resolved, you can put the agreement in writing and work can go ahead.
When you can’t come to an agreement, you’ll need to appoint a surveyor to issue as Party Wall Award which details the schedule, access rights and remedial work. Your neighbour has the right to hire their own surveyor (for which you’ll have to shoulder the cost). If you and your neighbours still don’t come to an agreement, you will need to hire a third surveyor.
To recap, it’s highly likely that you will need a Party Wall Agreement if you’re carrying out loft conversions. This helps protect all parties involves and help ensure that your loft conversion works are carried out with minimal disruption. However, if problems arise your surveyor can help resolve any dispute so work can go ahead without stress.
Be aware that the advice contained within this article is for reference purposes only. To understand your unique situation, please contact our team of experienced chartered surveyors who can provide you with specially tailored advice.
What is a Party Wall?
A party wall is a wall that you share with your neighbours. This type of wall is usually found in terraced or semi-detached houses and buildings that are comprised of several apartments.
If you’re doing structural work which will affect one of these walls, you will need to obtain specific permission from your neighbour or neighbours before work can proceed.
This will apply if your loft conversion project includes:
Cutting into a party wall or using it as a load-bearing wall for a beam
Inserting a damp course
Demolishing and rebuilding part of the wall
Removing a chimney breast
Increasing the thickness or height of the party wall
A Party Wall Agreement is the written consent given by any neighbours who could be affected by your loft agreement or other renovations.
This is governed by the Party Wall Act 1996 and provides the building owners with extra rights beyond common law. It also helps prevent and resolve disputes between neighbours and helps regulate the legal process including the schedule, form, rights and duties of each party.
This is in addition to the usual planning permission and building regulation approvals that may apply when you’re converting your loft.
At Harding Chartered Surveyors, we’re a team of independent and impartial RICS surveyors. If you have any questions, need advice, don’t hesitate to call us on 020 3598 6730.