In this article, we will look at building work involving Adjacent Excavations, something which often requires a notice to be served upon an Adjoining Owner under section 6 of the Party Wall Act 1996. The Act does not just apply to Party Walls but also to Excavations Adjacent to them. And ‘adjacent’ means within either 3 or 6 metres depending on the type of foundations used.

Notices of Adjacent Excavation are submitted when there are works happening under section 6 of the Act. Excavation work in construction defines the process of removing earth to form a cavity in below ground to form the foundations of the proposed development. It’s worth noting that even trail pits are also notifiable under the Act.

There are two types of Excavations that are covered under section 6:

· Excavating within 3 metres of your neighbour’s building and to a depth lower than the bottom of their foundations

· Excavating within 6 metres of your neighbour’s building, if any part of that excavation intersects with a plane drawn downwards at an angle of 45 degrees from the bottom of their foundations, taken at a line level with the face of their external wall (this will normally mean that your neighbour is using piled foundations).

On the Notice you must declare whether you propose to strengthen or safeguard the foundations of the neighbouring building or structure – this could include underpinning. The notice must be accompanied by plans and section drawings showing the position of the Excavation relative to existing buildings and also the depth of excavation must accompany a Notice of Adjacent Excavation.

A Notice needs to include the name(s) and address of the person(s) undertaking the work. The name (if known) and address of the affected neighbour, a detailed description of the proposed works and note of when these are planned to start. The notice should be signed and dated.

It is advisable that the notice is served at least two months before the planned starting date for the work. The notice is only valid for a year, so it should not be served too long before construction work starts.

What happens after a notice has been served?

A person who receives a notice about intended work may:

· Give their consent in writing, or
· Refuse to consent to the works proposed (known as dissent), which means a Surveyor/s will now need to be appointed or
· Do nothing

If, after a period of 14 days from the service of your notice, the person receiving the notice has done nothing, a dispute (dissent) is deemed to have arisen.

The adjoining neighbour may then wish to appoint their own Party Wall surveyor and the surveyor will then liaise with your Surveyor to conclude to a Party Wall Award. This process can take time especially if the proposals are complicated — for instance if you wish to build a basement.

The adjoining neighbour’s surveyor may seek the advice of a structural engineer on complicated schemes to advise him as to the suitability of the structural solutions proposed. They are often referred to as checking engineers, although, this is restricted to complicated schemes or high-risk works.

Don’t know what an Adjacent Excavation Notice is? Or maybe you have received a notice of Adjacent Excavation? SevenOne Associates are happy to help with any Excavation Notices.

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