Damp Proofing Works and the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Most works to an existing party wall require that you serve notice on an adjoining owner. But what are notifiable works?

Drilling holes for wall plugs in order to hang a picture or put up a shelf are not considered notifiable works. These are described in legal terms (and latin) as ‘de minimis’ as in de minimis non curat lex (the law does not concern itself with trifles)  but drilling holes to insert a chemical damp proof course is notifiable.

Some might be surprised to learn that raking out and re-pointing a wall is also notifiable works. Of particular concern to damp proofing companies is the case of Grand v. Gill [2011] 1 WLR 2253 where plaster was held to be structural by nature. In that case Lord Justice Lloyd held

“…as a general proposition, that plaster forming part of or applied to walls and ceilings is part of the structure of the relevant premises”.

So, removing plaster that is now considered to be part of the structure would require a building owner to serve (depending on how it is removed) a section 3.Party Structure notice in relation to work under section 2(2) of the Act. Even if you are not drilling the wall to inset a chemical damp proof course but removing plaster to line the wall with membrane then a notice may well need to be served.

Don’t forget that anything you do on your own land that effects your neighbours land could be classed as a private nuisance under tort law. Whatever work you specify for your clients property, consideration should be given to the effects of those works on the adjoining property.

Failure to serve a party wall notice could result in an adjoining owner obtaining an injunction to stop the work and also a hefty legal bill if any damage is caused due to the work.

By serving the relevant notice, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 will be invoked and any dispute will then be dealt with by party wall surveyors or the Agreed surveyor.

If you are a damp proofing company undertaking work to a party wall it will be in your interests to bring the act to your clients attention as the repercussions could affect you should any damage occur or should the adjoining owner stop the work via an injunction. As a reputable company, it is perhaps your duty to inform your client that they should serve notice. Ignorance is no defence in law!

Please note that a section 3 notice need be served 2 months prior to the work starting however, with written agreement (contained on the actual notice served) the work can start earlier.

To discuss your work or to issue a notice Call Now:-

Richard G Johnson MFPWS ACIOB Dip Eng Law (Open) on 07740 257 414 



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