I have always had interest in Gothic architecture and have always been very impressed

by the stone masonry work in churches and cathedrals. My family are well aware that

every time we drive walk past a Gothic cathedral I’m going to have to stop and going to

have a look at how it’s been built and in particular admire the stone tracery to the


The Quatrefoils shape is the four leafed clover window and can often be seen at the top

of a Gothic arch filled with stained glass. It’s a Christian and Islamic symbol the word

deriving from the Latin and comes from “quattour” or four and “folium” or leaves.

My uncle also lives in a road called Trefoil Drive and which is the three leafed clover

window so I suppose it been around me in some form for most of my life.

It is often quite interesting trying to spell the company name down the telephone to

someone and it is at times like this that one tends to think that maybe I should’ve called

the company ABC Surveyors but I’m sure it’s been done before.

I often have a number of discussions with people as to exactly how to pronounce the

name of the company and its one of those terms like scones or tomatoes where

everybody has a slightly different view.



A party Wall award can often be required when you undertake construction works either

on an existing or for a proposed building.

Many people look at the title of the act which is the “Party Wall etc Act” and are under the

misconception that it only relates to works that are carried out on the wall between two

joined premises which is known as the “Party Wall” but this is not the case.

There are a number of other items covered by the Act and the clue is in the etc. suffix at

the end of the title.

A few examples of items that would be included are such things as Adjacent Excavation

notices. If you’re digging in the back garden of your house for an extension and the

excavation will be lower than those of your next­door neighbour within a distance of 3 m

then you need to let the neighbours know under the terms of section 6 of the party wall

legislation. If you’re piling different distances and depths apply.

Within flats for example you can have such things as Party Structures which refer to that

part of the building that separates different homes or areas accessed by their own

staircase or entrance. If example you’re in a first­floor flat in doing work to your floors

such as putting insulation in for sound purposes of even a level access shower tray you

need to let the ground floor premises know as your floor is their ceiling and you are under

an obligation to notify the neighbours which could include not only leaseholders but the

freeholders as well.



The first thing at Quatrefoils we do is look at your drawings and determine firstly whether

or not you need to serve notice and secondly exactly what type of notices need to be


The first thing we would do is a land registry search to try and identify who the owners are

of the adjacent premises. Whilst you may have lived next door to Mr and Mrs Jones for

the last 10 years you might be surprised at the results of the land registry search as it is

not uncommon for this to show different owners and for you to find out that your

neighbours are in fact tenants. The land Registry can assist in identifying freeholders and

long­term tenants and should always be checked.

You should also be aware that you need to serve notice on all owners and the term

“owner” has a specific definition in the Party Wall et c act as somebody who has an

interest in the property of one year or more. For this reason a typical assured short hold

tenancy of one year would not be an owner but a person with a tenancy of one year and a

day or three years for example would be an owner.

It is interesting that a single property can have multiple owners. Where as you may see

only one house next door to you, there could be leasehold owners and freehold owners

both of whom require separate notice under the act and who can separately appoint their

own surveyor’s. On commercial premises you can even more owners with multiple leases

ending up with the eventual freeholder so this can prove to be expensive.

Not owners are recorded on the land registry, so whilst it is an excellent source of

information it is not infallible. Relatively short leasehold owners for example with a term of

a couple of years may not be on the land registry nor would people who have recently

purchased or who are under a contract to purchase as the land registry is not immediately

updated. You should therefore ensure that notices are dealt with at an early stage in

proceedings and not as so often happens at the last minute.

There are minimum time periods for the service of notice which are one ­month for an

adjacent excavation notice and two months for Party Structure notices. You should

therefore ensure you give plenty of time for the risk that unidentified owners may crop up.













Party Wall matters can be expensive and there is no way of hiding from that as you

cannot always control all of the costs. The expenses are not necessarily your surveyor as

you can agree these up front but the Adjoining Owners Surveyor over whom you have no


As soon as you submit for Planning Permission you should be aware that hoards of so

called “Surveyors”, many unregulated by the RICS will write directly to you neighbours

seeking appointment at your expense. Unregulated Surveyors can charge what they like

for what is minimal work and if you are in a hurry to build it is often not worth fighting.

I recently had a case where somebody was taking a chimney breast off their side which is

a notifiable matter under the Party Wall act and the next­door neighbours appointed an

unreasonably expensive surveyor for what was very minor works. Neighbours often do

this as a lever to try and force people to stop building works that they cannot prevent by

other means. I think we ended up with a bill for the owner in the region of £3000 for the

neighbours surveyor which is excessive as it is really the Building Owner’s Surveyor ( that

would normally be ourselves) who produces the Party Wall Award, the schedule of

condition and sends out all the notices. It is often the case that the opposing surveyor is

not generally Chartered but looks upon this as a means of easy money.

You need to be aware that if you have got multiple owners next­door it can be even more

expensive. If they all dissent and appoint surveyors, you could be dealing with multiple

Party Wall Awards. Even if they don`t respond their silence is deemed to be dissent under

the Act and you have to appoint a Surveyor to represent them.

At Quatrefoils we try to limit our fees particularly on residential works either to an hourly

rate or something in the region of £800 ­ £900 for relatively straightforward works which

includes the initial service of the notices and creating the Party Wall Award should it be

necessary. This would normally include a schedule of condition which is a document that

records the state of repair of the adjoining property prior to the start of works and in my

view is one of the most important parts of the Party Wall procedure.

What the schedule does is protects both parties as the building owner knows the pre-
existing condition of the adjoining premises before starting work so he is assured of not

receiving spurious claims. The next ­door neighbour is also protected against the

possibility of any damage being denied by the Building Owner as there will be an agreed

high definition video of the adjoining owner’s property which we could compare to the

condition if damage was alleged. If there was a problem we could then advise the

Building Owner that his works were the cause and he needs to either make good or pay

for the neighbours to undertake repairs themselves.



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