If you really cannot come to an agreement with your neighbour under the Party Wall Act, and most disputes can easily be settled simply by communicating with the other person and drawing up an agreement acceptable to both parties, then a surveyor is brought in to adjudicate.
You and your neighbour can jointly appoint an ‘agreed surveyor’ or, if you can’t even agree on that, then each party can appoint their own surveyor (your building inspector cannot also act as your surveyor).
The surveyor(s) must be independent and have a good knowledge of the construction industry and its building regulations (no surprises there then).
Under the terms of the act the surveyor(s) must consider the interests and rights of both parties and “draw up an impartial award.”
So, like Solomon, the surveyor(s) sit in judgement and make their decision.
They will draft a document (award) which you (i.e., the homeowner who is building the loft conversion) must abide by. This will include:
* The work that will be carried out
* When the work can be done (for example the surveyor(s) may decide that no work can take place on a weekend)
* Details any work needed to prevent damage to the neigbours property
The surveyor(s) also have the right to access the property to ensure that their instructions are being carried out.
And that’s it.
The surveyor(s) award is final and can only be changed by a court (your neighbour has 14 days after the surveyor(s) award to appeal to the county court). It is highly unlikely that any appeal would be successful.
Hang on a minute – what if my neighbour wont co-operate and appoint a surveyor?
No worries. You simply appoint one for him. The two surveyors, both appointed by you but with one acting for your neighbour, will then follow the above procedure and come to a decision which your neighbour must abide by.
So. The bottom line is?
There is no need to worry about the Party Wall Act - it's one of the few pieces of legislation that very easy to keep on the right side of. In 99% of cases there won’t be a problem and by simply keeping your neighbour informed and keeping disruption to a minimum there will be no dispute.
Even if there is, it is highly unlikely that your loft conversion will be halted by a complaint by a neighbour under the Party Wall Act.
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