Should I agree to work on a shared party wall?

Our lawyer, Katharine Marshall, advises on the legal issues relating to planned building works on a shared party wall
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Question: My neighbour wants my permission to carry out work on the old party wall between us. It involves raising the wall, removing chimney breasts and inserting an RSJ and other fixtures - including lead flashing.

If I say yes, how do I ensure I do not get landed with anything unpleasant in looks or costs to me?

Answer: Your neighbour is required to serve written notice to you not less than two months before commencing the work. The notice must give their name and address, the nature and details of the planned work and the date it will start.

You can then either give written consent to the proposed works within 14 days, or serve a counter notice within a month, or do nothing, in which case a dispute is deemed to arise.

If you serve a counter notice, you can comment on the works and suggest alterations to the proposals. Your neighbour then has a further 14 days to agree to your counter notice.

If they do not agree then, again, a dispute will arise. A sensible start might be to invite their surveyor in look at your part of the property and to get an agreement to put right any damage that might be caused by the work. If a dispute arises, the matter is referred to a party wall surveyor who will decide how the works are to be carried out.

Generally the person wanting to carry out the works will be responsible for the costs. The surveyor, however, may award costs in his discretion.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Katharine Marshall please email, or write to: Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5EE.

We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here.

Katharine is a solicitor and director at Pitmans Solicitors (

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