Beware of the Cold Caller

It’s come to our attention that there are some companies out there who scan local council websites looking for people who have lodged planning permission applications. They then write to them offering their services.

Recently a friend was notified by his neighbour that they had received a letter from a company making them “aware of some important legal information about these works” that may be relevant under the Party Wall etc Act 1996. They mentioned if works involved digging foundations within 3 metres of your building and the foundations are deeper than your own foundations, then the person intending to build must give you written notice and drawings of the works at least one month before the works commence. Once you receive this notice you are legally entitled to appoint a ‘party wall surveyor’ of your choosing to safeguard your rights under the Act. All true under “the Act”.

The party wall surveyor will ensure that works are conducted lawfully and that you don’t suffer any unnecessary inconvenience. The surveyor will also prepare a report on the condition of your property before works start and return after their completion to ensure there has been no damage. The person intending to build will be responsible for paying your surveyor’s reasonable fees. Under “the Act” it is true that the person intending to build will have to pay the costs of the surveyor even though he has not appointed that surveyor.

But if you have a good relationship with your neighbours why pay for these companies to do something that you would do as a good and responsible neighbour? Go over and talk to your neighbour about your plans before you put in that planning application and keep them informed. Along with your neighbour, photograph his property before works start and both of you agree on the general state of the building and put this in writing. If the builder does do something to damage your neighbour’s property then rectify it.

If you want/need to go down the route of employing a party wall surveyor, check their credentials, terms and conditions and costs before you sign on the dotted line. It may end up costing you a lot more than you think.

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