The Party Wall Consultancy is a niche firm of specialist Chartered Surveyors who are highly experienced in all matters arising under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 came in to force on 1 July 1997 to govern the legal procedure to be followed in the carrying out of any works to property within England and Wales deemed, by the Act, to be 'notifiable'. This includes excavating for foundations within a specified distance of neighbouring property, building new walls at or astride the legal boundary, or works to repair or modify Party Walls and Party Fence Walls.
The firm was founded in 2007 by James McAllister LL.M BSc(Hons) DipArb MRICS FCIArb FFPWS who recognised the complexity of this area of surveying and the need for dedicated expertise. Whilst already an experienced Chartered Building Surveyor having qualified in 1996, James complimented his bachelor's degree in Building Surveying with a master's law degree in commercial property law in 2013. Having also qualified as a Certified Commercial Mediator registered with the Civil Mediation Council, James is well versed in property related legal disputes and effective dispute resolution. James has had several articles published by RICS and has authored for peer-reviewed journals with international coverage. In 2016 James was instrumental in a landmark decision in the High Court by way of judicial review proceedings which has galvanised the interpretation of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 in favour of Party Wall Surveyors regarding enforcement of Awards in the Magistrates Courts for unpaid fees. James has appeared on BBC Radio 4 to discuss Party Wall matters and neighbourly disputes and he regularly advises other Party Wall practitioners and Chartered Surveyors. A copy of James' professional CV can be downloaded here.
We are appointed on party wall matters concerning residential and commercial property throughout Bristol, the South West, London and the home counties in both the private and public sectors. Our head office is based in Bristol, which rather fittingly was the only other British city outside London to have its own party wall legislation prior to the 1996 Act. This was in the form of the Bristol Improvement Act 1847.
The Party Wall Consultancy is one of the leading specialist practices in this field. All our Surveyors are professional members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Chartered Institute of Arvitrators. Our Surveyors are also Fellows of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and members of party wall interest group the Pyramus & Thisbe Club.
The Party Wall Consultancy deals with all matters arising under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 in both residential and commercial property. Our Surveyors fulfil statutory appointments under section 10(1) of the Act as 'Building Owner's Surveyor', 'Adjoining Owner's Surveyor' or 'Agreed Surveyor' and 'Third Surveyor' referrals. We also deal with closely associated matters falling outside the remit of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, such as drafting Access & Scaffold Licences and boundary disputes. We often advise developers on large schemes as to the potential implications of the Act on the proposed works and the relevant notices needed. James McAllister also accepts appointments as Expert Witness and Single Joint Expert on matters proceeding through litigation, along with appointments as Mediator in neighbourly dispute matters outside the Act.
Our appointments usually commence with instructions from the Building Owner to prepare and serve formal notice upon the Adjoining Owner in accordance with the provisions of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. The notice explains, in detail, the Building Owner's proposals to implement 'notifiable' works falling within the criteria of the Act in relation to the Adjoining Owner's property.
We also provide initial pre-notification advice to Building Owners who want to understand whether their proposed works fall within the ambit of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, and if so, which notices are required to be served. This service may be at the feasibility stage of a project whereby initial advice may assist in design revisions to avoid works requiring notification under the Act.
Service of notice may then lead to a formal statutory appointment under section 10(1) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 in the event a 'dispute' arises with the Adjoining Owner. This may be due to the Adjoining Owner's communication of 'dissent' to the notice, or failure to respond to the notice within 14 days (known as a 'deemed dissent'). In this instance we will then draft and formally serve upon the parties a Party Wall Award. This legally authorises the works and sets out the respective rights and duties of each party in relation to the works being the subject of the Award. The Building Owner cannot commence the works being the subject of the notice until the Award is served.
As part of the Award we will usually record the existing condition of the areas of the Adjoining Owner's property likely to be affected by the Building Owner's notifiable works to avoid any later dispute over attributable damage of pre-existing defects.
Our appointments in this regard may either be as an 'Agreed Surveyor' where we are jointly appointed by both parties with their mutual agreement, or in the capacity of 'Building Owner's Surveyor' in the event the Adjoining Owner appoints their own Surveyor.
We are also appointed by Adjoining Owners who are in receipt of a notice from the Building Owner and are unsure how to respond. We accept appointments to review and respond to the notice on the Adjoining Owner's behalf.
Where an Adjoining Owner chooses to 'dissent' to the notice they have received from the Building Owner, or has failed to communicate 'consent' within 14 days of receiving the notice, they are then in the position of having to appoint a Surveyor by law; failure to do so within 10 days of a request being made by the Building Owner may result in the Building Owner appointing a Surveyor of their chosing on the Adjoining Owner's behalf. At this point the Adjoining Owner will have no control over the selection of their Surveyor.
In the event of a dispute, we accept appointments to act as the Adjoining Owner's Surveyor under Section 10(1) of the Act, again to settle the dispute by way of an Award.
We are regularly appointed to advise Adjoining Owners who have not been properly notified by the Building Owner in connection with works that should have been the subject of notice under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (known as 'unlawful works'). We may initially be appointed to write to the Building Owner on the Adjoining Owner's behalf advising of the breach of the Act and the legal implications for failure to comply. In the event this proves to be ineffective, we can appoint, on the Adjoining Owner's behalf and in the relevant circumstances, a barrister under the Direct Access scheme to initiate proceedings for injunctive relief. This will result in an injunction being served upon the Building Owner to cease any further works in breach of the Act and effect any necessary remedial action.
In situations where a Building Owner and Adjoining Owner have each appointed their own Surveyor, the two appointed Surveyors must, by law, select a Third Surveyor as a neutral arbiter in the event they are unable to agree on any issue put before them for determination.
Our Surveyors have completed formal additional training and qualification to ensure suitability for Third Surveyor selection and we regularly fulfil this specialist role to ensure the efficiency of the dispute resolution process intended by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
Our unparalleled expertise in all roles enables the notified building work to proceed legally and without unnecessary cost, delay or inconvenience thereby ensuring the rights and duties of both parties are fully understood and observed at all stages of the process. This ensures an efficient resolution to the dispute and reduced cost in the overall process.
Our Surveyors are highly qualified and experienced in all matters arising under and incidental to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. This means the appointing party is not disadvantaged by a practitioner who is merely finding thei way in what is a complex and litigious area of property law.
We apply a fair and reasonable charging structure based on the complexity of the works and the seniority of the Surveyor appointed. We are always pleased to provide free initial guidance and advice at an early stage without commitment or obligation.
Download our Factsheet for more information here.