What is an Adjoining Building Owner?

Definition of an Adjoining Building Owner
“Adjoining owner” and “adjoining occupier” respectively mean any owner and any occupier of land, buildings, storeys or rooms adjoining those of the building owner and for the purposes only of section 6 within the distances specified in that section.

Are your neighbours planning building works?

Are your neighbours carrying out or planning to undertake any of the works listed below? If so, legally your neighbours should serve a Party Wall Notice upon you before commencing any such works.

  • An extension, whether that be to the rear, side or into the loft.
  • Conversion of a basement, garage or loft.
  • Underpinning.
  • Alterations, demolition or repairs to a wall, ceiling or floor shared with another property.
  • Roofing works, including to the chimney.
  • Building a free standing wall, or a wall of a building, up to or astride the boundary with a neighbouring property.
  • Excavating and casting foundations within 3 or 6 metres of an adjoining building owned by someone else.

Adjoining Owners

Within 14 days you need to decide whether to dissent or consent to your neighbours proposals if you receive a Notice under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 . This needs to be in writing, whichever way you decide. The complexity of the works your neighbours are proposing and how you view the potential risk of damage to your property will normally affect the way you respond. If the 14 day period passes without you responding or appointing a Party Wall Surveyor a further letter would be sent to you requesting that you either consent or dissent to the Notice. If after a further 10 day period has elapsed and you have not responded, a Dispute would have arisen and the Building Owners have the ability to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor on your behalf because you had not confirmed your decision within this additional 10 day period. Please refer to our Adjoining Owners step-by-step guide to the Party Wall process for more information.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is a facilitating piece of legislation. So no you cannot stop them , BUT! In essence, the Act is a dispute resolution process to prevent neighbours having to fight to obtain a legal judgement to undertake building works. Some Adjoining Owners believe that if they ignore the Building Owners’ Notice they can frustrate the Party Wall process. However, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 sets out defined timescales in which Adjoining Owners have to respond following the serving of a Notice and, if Adjoining Owners continue to ignore a Notice, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 allows the Building Owners to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor on behalf of the Adjoining Owners so that the process can continue.
If you are the Adjoining owner ( The neighbour) to where the building works are taking place, it is correct that usually when you appoint a Party Wall Surveyor to assist you with the process and ensure that the correct protection is being put in place for your building that the person carrying out the Building works pays for our fees, as why should you be out of pocket for the works that someone else is doing.
If a Building Owner wishes to undertake works for the sole benefit of the Building Owner, usually the Building Owner would have to pay all reasonable costs involved in agreeing a Party Wall Award. And if we put this into perspective. With all of the best of intentions, no one sets out to create damage to a neighbouring property. But, in reality, things can and do go wrong. Without the Act, the only way you will be able to redress any disputed damage is through the courts, which would of course test the best of neighbour relationships, not to mention all the expense you will incur having to take your neighbours to court. The small cost involved in agreeing a Party Wall Award will be minimal compared to the probable overall cost of their building works. If the works were of a simple nature the Adjoining Owners could consider appointing one single Party Wall Surveyor, referred to within the Act as the “Agreed Surveyor”. PWS Kent can act as the Agreed Surveyor and we would be happy to explain the advantages and disadvantages of using one surveyor.