Do you need to serve Party Wall notices ?
A typical basement excavation or conversion project for a property that shares at least one party wall with and Adjoining Owner will include works covered under the Party Wall Act sections 2 and 6, section 2 covering works directly to a party wall (in case of underpinning) and section 6 covering basement excavation works within 3 meters of a shared or neighbouring structure. In summary, if your project will include either of the below works you will need to serve the adjoining property owners and leaseholders with a Party Wall Notice:
1. Inserting beams which will bear onto the party wall
2. Extend (underpin) the party wall or alter in any other way
3. Carry out any excavations near to the party wall
How it works
If you are managing the project yourself, you will need to employ a party wall surveyor to represent you. You can search for an experience basement works related party wall surveyor here.
You will need to send the final design to the surveyor, which will include: Architects Existing and Proposed drawings which will contain the party wall sections; Structural Design and Method Statement; any site investigations carried out
You will need to bear in mind that should the design of the project change after the award has been agreed, this would need to be revised and an addendum award completed which will refer to the revised design.
On receipt of the Party Wall notice, the property owners and any leaseholders now have the option to agree to the works or dissent. The majority of the parties involved in such projects will dissent to the works and appoint a party wall surveyor to act to represent their interests. We will need to note here that any costs which will be incurred during this process will need to be met by you.
The adjoining neighbours party wall surveyor will have the right to appoint a checking engineer to check on the proposed design and can make requests for amendments to the design before agreeing to the works.
Dependant on the extent of the works proposed to the party wall, the adjoining neighbours are within their right to request a security deposit. Shortly, this will mean you placing an agreed sum into an Escrow account and which will be released upon satisfactory and signed off structural works to the party wall.
The appointed party wall surveyors will attend a site visit to the adjoining properties and will carry out a schedule of conditions report. This will include a visual inspection of the existing condition of the properties and will protect the adjoining property owners in case their will be any damages to their property during the works and at the same time will also protect you from unfair claims.
Once all conditions of the award are agreed, these can be signed and the works commence on site.
On completion of all works at your property if no occurrences or damages to the adjoining properties have been noted, the awards will be closed. In the unfortunate event that there are damages noted, a second site visit will be carried out by the party wall surveyors and a schedule of damages completed which will then need to be referred to your contractor. Your contractor can then either offer to carry out the remedial works themselves or refer this to their insurers. Please note that at this stage your neighbours will also have the option to request for quotes from other companies to carry out the remedial works and appoint one of these companies.
In case of damages incurred to adjoining properties, we will also need to note that these damages might not necessarily be a result of your contractors negligence or bad workmanship. If this is proven to be the case, you will need to cover the costs for the remedial works. However, for this type of damage, a so called Non Negligence Insurance an be contracted and included in the award which will cover you in case of such an event. You can either enquire about this type of insurance wither with your party pall surveyor, or you can enquire at the one of the specialised insurers here.