As with most building projects, it is always preferable to attempt to informally approach neighbours and other owners where possible to discuss the details of your planned work before serving your written notice. You can listen to any concerns raised and, if reasonable, alter the proposals to address any issues or concerns.
If a formal party wall notice is the first indication a neighbour receives about your project it can sometimes create a negative impression and lead to otherwise unnecessary resistance.
You will always need to follow up with a written notice.
Remember that you cannot begin your construction project until either you have the neighbours written consent to the works that are the subject of the Act, or until the appointed surveyors have prepared and served a Party Wall Award, and you have followed the procedures set out in the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
What if your Neighbours Dispute The Proposed works?resources
You should be reassured to know that the primary purpose of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 is to facilitate responsible development.
The Party Wall etc Act is arguably favourably disposed towards construction projects but requires a responsible approach to be adopted by the Building Owner that takes account of the interests and rights of neighbours and protects their property.
It is the responsibility of the appointed Surveyors to determine matters in dispute between the Owners, although the Owners and the Surveyors can refer decisions to the Third Surveyor.
The Third Surveyor can determine who will be responsible for costs involved in any referrals, and this should be a deterrent to any malicious or vexatious Adjoining Owner or Building Owner, since they could end up paying the costs.
It is probably not likely that unnecessarily difficult neighbours will successfully prevent works taking place. Even if a neighbour refuses to respond at all, or is completely absent, the Act provides a solution whereby you can appoint a Surveyor to act for them.
Bear in mind that the Surveyors do need time to review the proposed works and identify any issues that perhaps require to be clarified or developed further. You can help by ensuring that your design team respond promptly to requests for information and clarifications as the Surveyors carry out their duties under the Act.
Do allow time within your pre construction programme for the party wall matters to be resolved.
The Party Wall Surveyors will draft a document called a Party Wall Award after their assessments and reviews of the proposed works are complete. Amongst other issues, the Party Wall Award will usually include a detailed description of the current condition of the party wall or nearby adjoining premises and relevant details of the work to be performed and any restrictions on method and timing.
In some cases this Award document may grant rights of access to both properties as necessary for the work to be properly conducted, although such rights of access must take into account inconvenience to Adjoining Owners and occupiers and, again, such issues would normally be addressed within the Award including provision of a notice prior to access.
The Award will also determine who will pay for the work, but usually the Building Owner initiating the work will be responsible for costs unless unusual or other circumstances have arisen.
During the course of the construction project the Party Wall Surveyors may wish to return to the property to confirm that the work is being executed in compliance with the terms of the Award.
It is usual for the Adjoining Owners Surveyor to re visit the Adjoining Owners property once works are complete and to seek to establish whether any damage has occurred that would be attributable to the works.
Any dispute between the Owners regarding damage or alleged damage would usually be resolved by the Surveyors.