There are precise time provisions within the Party Wall Act relating to when Party Wall Notices should be served and when a building owner can start work. These time provisions should in all normal circumstances be complied with although in the case of Section Three only they may be waived when “complying with any notice served under any statutory provisions relating to dangerous or neglected structures”. In other words unless the work is in urgent compliance of a dangerous structure notice then the notice periods are fixed. Proper professional advice in this situation is recommended.
Section One of the Act (building on the line of junction) says [para 1.2]
If a building owner desires to build a party wall or party fence wall on the line of junction he shall, at least one month before he intends the building work to start, serve on any adjoining owner a notice which indicates his desire to build and describes the intended wall.
Section Three of the Act (works to a party structure) says [para 3.2.a]
A party structure notice shall be served at least two months before the date on which the proposed work will begin.
Section Six of the Act (adjacent excavations within 3m or 6m) says [para 6.5]
In any case where this section applies the building owner shall, at least one month before beginning to excavate, or excavate for and erect a building or structure, serve on the adjoining owner a notice indicating his proposals and stating whether he proposes to underpin or otherwise strengthen or safeguard the foundations of the building or structure of the adjoining owner.
While you can, with the written consent of your neighbour, commence works before these time periods have expired and after a party wall agreement or award is concluded building owners should not rely on this consent being forthcoming. All notices are valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
Serving party wall notices a week before work going to start work is a very risky approach indeed and is to be avoided, it will inevitably cause delay and probable expense. We have uploaded Party wall notice forms and templates, but it is essential to ensure that notices are correctly served and contain the correct information.
If a neighbour dissents and appoints a surveyor one can expect the party wall process to take at least 4 to 6 weeks to conclude during which time you can do no work to which the act relates.
(Originally published by Steven Way, 5 February 2013)