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  • Writer's picturePaul Coward

"The best time to start was last year. But failing that, today will do." - Chris Guillebeau

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Benjamin Franklin was absolutely correct when he sternly warned us all: "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!". When planning an extension project, this is particularly true and is easily the most important stage of the process. Dreams are dreamt, conversations are spoken, drawings are made, calculations are checked and secured, permission is applied for and considered, workmanship is reviewed and...and...neighbours are notified!

The relationship you have with your neighbour is important, as you share a very localised community with them, whether you want to or not. You may see each other regularly on 'bin day' or school walks; you may see each other in the local pub, library or supermarket. They may use reliable workmen that they could refer to you and even have a watchful eye over your house and neighbourhood when you are away, so it is important to try and maintain a healthy connection. And it becomes particularly relevant when you want to extend your property.

If your building works interfere with the co-owned Party Wall, or their property in any way (under the Party Wall Act etc. 1996) then providing the correct notice period to them is the least you can do. Not only will it help to prolong a healthy relationship in the future, but an accurate Notice provides helpful information so that your neighbour is able to make an informed decision, AND it protects you from any future false claims!

The best way to know WHEN you need to notify your neighbours of any Party Wall work is to work backwards from your intended start date. Once your local authority have approved your plans (using your provided architectural and engineering drawings) you will be looking for a reliable construction company to begin work. Their time is precious and they will be quoting other potential customers, so it is vital that you know when you want to start. Therefore, shopping around for the right Party Wall surveyor should be completed before you hire your builders. Your architect or engineer may also have useful Party Wall connections and there's absolutely no harm asking them.

For work that requires excavations or new foundations near a neighbour's structure wall (typically a side or rear extension or a basement project), you should provide one month's notice. So, if you want to start on June 1st, you should serve Notices on May 1st.

For work and alterations that directly affect the Party Wall (cutting away chimney breasts, cutting holes to insert beams and padstones, or cutting in flashings - all typically involved in loft extensions and side or rear extensions) require a two-month notice period before work can begin. So, if you wanted to begin work on June 1st, you should serve Notices on April 1st...You'd be a fool not to!

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