How fast can I get a Party Wall Award?

Help, I want to start work tomorrow… How fast can I get a Party Wall Award?

As always, it depends. And it depends largely on whether you get on with your neighbour, whether your neighbour is cooperative and whether you have a fully designed piece of work and how slick and efficient your surveyor can be.

Your neighbour can insist on the full two surveyor procedure and the specified time-scales which will put your work back by weeks with all the attendant costs. Even with cooperative neighbours and surveyors it is by no means common, or a foregone conclusion, that you will be able to do a 24- or 48-hour award, or even get it done in a week.

It is a legal requirement to serve a notice and that should be done two months before your work starts, but with a fair following wind and a competent surveyor it can be turned around a lot quicker. It needs the surveyor to be properly appointed as an Agreed Surveyor by both sides, the notices to be served and dissented from quickly and the schedule of condition to be taken immediately. Then the surveyor can consider preparing an Award.

The surveyor will need proper drawings, finished calculations and the like, not just a vague idea and a fag packet drawing. If everything is in place then the Award could be agreed the same day and the works start tomorrow.  If everything is in place we have managed to turn these around in a day but more often than not it takes a week. The usual problem is that the building owner has “forgotten” to do the party wall stuff and is stuck in a last minute panic with builders on site and steel work coming tomorrow. To be clear if the drawings and calculations are deficient or your neighbour appoints their own surveyor the Award process could take weeks and we cannot magic a solution up for you.

We should also note that whilst  this might work for a piece of generally simple work such as a loft conversion or small extension for anything complicated or with significant structural interruption then much more time will be needed to properly review the scheme and obtain all supporting documents.

Oh, and if you want a surveyor to drop everything, accept and get written appointments, attend site, review drawings, liaise with engineers and agree and publish an Award in a day, it is I am afraid going to cost you,. Typically this process will take 7 or 8 hours at a premium rate so expect to pay £1400 plus VAT.

Or more… which could be hugely less than six weeks of an idle site.

Get in touch if you need (not so last minute) party wall advice.

(Originally published by Steven Way, 20 October 2015)