There’s more to Party Wall matters than Party Walls…

There’s a reason it’s called the “Party Wall etc Act” and the etc part covers a plethora of other things that ordinarily you may not consider to be related. Party Wall matters will need careful consideration where you are carrying out building work which involves any of the following;

–              Works to a party wall

–              Building along or astride the line of junction

–              Excavating within 3m and to a lower level that of the adjoining owner’s foundations (or 6m in some cases)


What do I need to do?

In the event that you are doing building work that falls under one of the above categories you should serve notice on your neighbours under the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

What does the process involve?

The process begins by serving Notice on the relevant adjoining owners and gives them the opportunity to consent, or to dissent the work. The timescales for serving notice and obtaining a response vary dependent on the type of work that is proposed to be carried out. The legislation is an enabling Act and as such, if the adjoining owners dissent, Party Wall Surveyors will be required to be appointed to resolve the dispute, such that you can proceed with your building works. The Party Wall Surveyors will prepare a Party Wall Award which sets out any methods of working that might be required to minimise disruption and this is a legal document so that compensation can be enforced for any damage caused.

What if my neighbours are happy with the work to go ahead?

If you’re on good terms with your neighbours and you’re not digging a triple basement, you might think it’s all a bit overkill, but you will still need to serve Notice. Even if the neighbours are happy to consent, it is a good idea to prepare a Schedule of Condition. This involves a visual inspection and photographic record of how things are prior to the start of the building work so that any damage can be easily identified. It can also help to protect you from claims for any cracks etc that were actually present prior to you carrying out your building work. Where you obtain your neighbours written consent you do not need to involve Party Wall Surveyors.

Need to know more? Check out or give me a call.

DIY not?

I recently underwent a bit of a brand renovation with Lexi at Special Kind Design I could’ve taken a DIY approach but I decided it would make more sense for me to focus on my own clients, so I asked Lexi to guide me. Initially I approached Lexi thinking – “I need a new look”, but it turns out brand design is so much more. She took me through a her brand clarity process, digging into what I do and most importantly, who my clients are and what they want. We made a vision board, met several times to review her proposals and I’ve come away with a set of Brand Guidelines so that I can implement it all with ease. It’s turns out visual branding is only a small part of your brand identity.

There were, perhaps unsurprisingly, huge parallels with my own work – establishing the desirable outcomes and how she could deliver those for me. There is great value in being challenged on your own ideas to bring clarity on what you’re trying to do. I take the same approach with my clients – I’ll challenge you on your requirements, not to disuade you or to prove you wrong, just to be sure you are clear on your needs. Equally, you may raise objections to my suggestions and we’ll develop proposals together, it’s an iterative process.

There’s no doubt you could undertake a house renovation project without an architect, just as I could’ve re-branded on my own, but the outcome will inevitably be a better one if you choose someone with the relevant experience to guide you through it.

It’s going to cost how much?

What’s stopping you from just cracking on with that project? I’ll bet at least part of it is the uncertainty of how much it’s all going to cost. You’ve approached builders for their input, only to be told you’ll need some drawings from an architect before they can give you a quote – it’s all a bit chicken and egg.

You could just take the plunge with someone to draw up your ideas, get your consents and look for quotes, but what if it all comes back at double your budget? Aren’t you going to be slightly annoyed about that? It makes far more sense to work with someone who has an understanding of your budget from the outset, and to review it as the project progresses. I help clients get a handle on costs before we get too far down the line so that we can adjust the design if need be to suit your budget, especially on smaller projects where budgets are often tight.

Cost certainty is really important to everyday families. That’s why I work with local builders to ballpark costs an early stage in the project – so that you’re empowered to decide whether to change the scope or grow the budget. Before submitting your planning application, I think it’s fair enough that you should have a broad understanding of the cost of what you’re looking to do, I know I’d want to.

Do you need your architect involved during the build? That’s a whole different blog, but if you’re already battling with a hectic family life there is definite value in handing the reigns to someone else to administer your building contract. The benefits will almost certainly outweigh the costs. In any case, a comprehensive tender package can mitigate many site queries, keeping the on-site involvement and fees to a reasonable level.

From being clear with my own fees upfront, seeking ballpark costs for your build and spending time to review your quotes to ensure they are like for like, there’s a lot to be said for talking about money.