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  • FIRST POST
    • willrowe
    • By willrowe 11th Sep 17, 5:10 PM
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    willrowe
    Party Wall Act - Loft Conversion
    • #1
    • 11th Sep 17, 5:10 PM
    Party Wall Act - Loft Conversion 11th Sep 17 at 5:10 PM
    Hi there.

    Our neighbours want to convert their loft under permitted development regs (no planning approval required). I knew nothing about this until they asked me round last night in order to discuss their intentions and see the plans. They said the work would be starting today and indeed the scaffolding went up this morning.

    They gave me an agreement they want me to sign giving my consent for the works. Before signing this however, I was under the impression works could not start on their property for 2 months from them issuing the agreement (not 12 hours as is the case here).

    Aside from their complete lack of neighbourlyness, I need to know where I stand legally. I don't in principle object to the works but I do have problems with work proceeding without my consent and without regard to the law.

    With regards the 2 month rule, I wonder what 'work' is defined as. Are they prevented from having any 'work' related to the loft conversion done before 2 months has expired or purely the work required to the party wall (installing steel beams).

    Any information gratefully received.
Page 1
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 11th Sep 17, 5:28 PM
    • 23,966 Posts
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    Doozergirl
    • #2
    • 11th Sep 17, 5:28 PM
    • #2
    • 11th Sep 17, 5:28 PM
    I know about two weeks after a Party Wall Award, and they can start, just at their own risk. And it obviously relates to the party wall. You can't just demand that they don't work on anything.

    And that's all if you dissent to the Party Wall notice to start with. If you agree without insisting on the full caboodle of surveyors thrashing it all out then there's no reason why you can't let them get on with it.

    I'm not a fan of the party wall act for minor works. The agreement states an awful lot of obvious stuff and that the person having work is responsible for paying for damage to the other property. There are degrees of risk associated with different works. A couple of steels are at the low end of that scale. If there is no formal agreement then the upshot is the same. Neighbour is still responsible. For a small job, the cost of surveyors would be higher than rectifying the potential problems.

    Neighbour's have gone about it a bit of the wrong way, but people aren't educated about these things (including you) and brownie points to them for actually trying. It shows they at least care. I wouldn't say it showed a complete lack of neighbourliness. They have spoken to you, regardless of doing it in precisely the correct way administratively.

    I appreciate that 12 hours notice is a shock for the start of work, but that won't be notifiable work straight away. People are allowed to work on their houses without permission or notice. How much work actually affects the party structure and what do you want to do in that two months if you don't want them to start? In all probability, the party wall stuff will be done and dusted in an afternoon if it's all under PD.
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 11-09-2017 at 5:38 PM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • willrowe
    • By willrowe 11th Sep 17, 5:36 PM
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    willrowe
    • #3
    • 11th Sep 17, 5:36 PM
    • #3
    • 11th Sep 17, 5:36 PM
    Thanks Doozergirl.

    Interesting. Why then in the Building Regs (gov.uk/party-walls-building-works/when-how-tell-them) does it state:

    'You must give notice to your neighbour between 2 months and a year before you plan to start building works. Include what you plan on doing'.
    • TheCyclingProgrammer
    • By TheCyclingProgrammer 11th Sep 17, 6:04 PM
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    TheCyclingProgrammer
    • #4
    • 11th Sep 17, 6:04 PM
    • #4
    • 11th Sep 17, 6:04 PM
    The 2 months notice thing doesn't really matter if you're happy for them to get on with it. Are you? Is there a good reason why you'd want to delay them unnecessarily? (I agree they should gave given you more notice but they haven't, so the ball is in your court).
    • brightontraveller
    • By brightontraveller 11th Sep 17, 6:05 PM
    • 1,326 Posts
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    brightontraveller
    • #5
    • 11th Sep 17, 6:05 PM
    • #5
    • 11th Sep 17, 6:05 PM
    Thanks Doozergirl.

    Interesting. Why then in the Building Regs (gov.uk/party-walls-building-works/when-how-tell-them) does it state:

    'You must give notice to your neighbour between 2 months and a year before you plan to start building works. Include what you plan on doing'.
    Originally posted by willrowe
    Acts , Laws , Regulations etc you need understands all are different? Some have teeth others gummie bears.... party wall act should have more e.g. liability of builders etc but its not much use at all, Enforcement's rare /costly, very much dependent on the local authority, If you want then don't sign it your under no obligation legal or otherwise, If they carry on which most will if they f up you may have your day in court but even winning can mean diddly with regard them rectifying or paying you anything.....
    • willrowe
    • By willrowe 11th Sep 17, 6:13 PM
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    willrowe
    • #6
    • 11th Sep 17, 6:13 PM
    • #6
    • 11th Sep 17, 6:13 PM
    I don't necessarily want to delay them but I do want to know what work they're proposing, how long the programme, hours of work etc. I do think that should be a basic agreement before I sign anything.

    The scaffolders have also installed structures overhanging our property boundary which could now give easy access to unwanted guests. We didn't agree to this and it doesn't fill me with much hope for a trouble free build.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 11th Sep 17, 6:49 PM
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    Doozergirl
    • #7
    • 11th Sep 17, 6:49 PM
    • #7
    • 11th Sep 17, 6:49 PM
    I think you're giving the PWA too many teeth with regard to the building work. We carry out huge renovations and we can have significant Party Wall negotiations going on once we've already started work. That doesn't stop us from talking to the neighbours.

    What is the work being done on the party wall? You have only mentioned inserting of steels and that is normal for a residential conversion of an existing loft. In relation to that, the party wall act would cover a method statement of how they undertake that specific part of the job. It would probably cover a few sentences and the timeline an afternoon. On larger jobs it will cover timescales and working hours when builders are clambering over your property to build a new four storey party wall extension or excavating a huge basement conversion. Because that is huge inconvenience and that is also where those two months come in - for negotiation and the benefit of having a deadline.

    But overall building work not affecting the party wall is pretty much none of your business. The PWA and notice periods covers none of this for your neighbour's type of project.

    The neighbours could renovate the entire house if they didn't insert anything into the wall without consulting you at all. Go and say hi to the builder, make them a cup of tea and ask your questions. All of this is dealt with far more quickly and with less misunderstanding if it is done face to face and with tolerance. Most of us inconvenience our neighbours a bit at different times for different reasons. There's no need to be throwing the full weight of a toothless law behind building work when it happens. And it does happen and it will finish and the best way to get to the end is to be as nice as possible even when you don't feel it.
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 11-09-2017 at 6:53 PM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 12th Sep 17, 11:27 AM
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    teneighty
    • #8
    • 12th Sep 17, 11:27 AM
    • #8
    • 12th Sep 17, 11:27 AM
    I don't necessarily want to delay them but I do want to know what work they're proposing, how long the programme, hours of work etc. I do think that should be a basic agreement before I sign anything.

    The scaffolders have also installed structures overhanging our property boundary which could now give easy access to unwanted guests. We didn't agree to this and it doesn't fill me with much hope for a trouble free build.
    Originally posted by willrowe
    It is a fine line between being a good neighbour and a doormat, this sounds like it is straying into doormat territory.

    I can't help feeling that your neighbour is trying to rush you into signing an agreement before you have had time to fully understand it.

    In this situation I would ask the neighbour for more time. You do not say whether they have actually served a formal party wall notice or just presented you with an informal agreement to sign. The general building work can continue, provided it does not affect your property (scaffold was rather cheeky) but works affecting the party wall such as cutting holes into the wall to insert steel beams, should not.
    • willrowe
    • By willrowe 12th Sep 17, 12:16 PM
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    willrowe
    • #9
    • 12th Sep 17, 12:16 PM
    • #9
    • 12th Sep 17, 12:16 PM
    Thanks teneighty, you've hit the nail on the head.

    The neighbours have issued an informal agreement but in comparison to the template agreements found on UK gov and various web pages, it's pretty basic. The neighbours state in the letter that they've been considering a loft extension for a long time now (so why only give us 12 hours notice?). The letter is also dated 29th Aug but was given to me on 10th Sept.

    To be honest I don't think they know anything about the proper steps they need to take. As I understand it, the loft conversion company suddenly had a 'window' in which they could do the work and have encouraged our neighbours to rush it through. The loft company apparently told them nothing about the need for a formal party wall agreement but suggested a simple letter stating when they were starting work should suffice.
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 12th Sep 17, 12:38 PM
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    teneighty
    I find it very hard to believe that a company that specialises in loft conversions has not got a very good understanding of the Party Wall Act procedures and timescales. As you suggest, it would seem they have had to bring the start date forward and are now trying to bounce you into a quick informal agreement.

    For a simple loft conversion involving cutting some beams into the party wall it should be relatively simple to get a party wall agreement drawn up and agreed. If the neighbour is not up to writing it themselves they could appoint an "agreed surveyor" to draw up an agreement. It could be sorted out in a few days and cost less than £500.
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