Chimney Breast Removal

In this blog, Icon Surveyors will be considering whether there is a legal obligation on a building owner, who is proposing to remove their chimney breast, to serve a Party Wall Notice on any adjoining owner.

If so,

Why and under what section of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, does such an obligation apply?

The first question to decipher is; whether or not the structural wall upon which the chimney breast sits, is a party wall? If the answer to this question is in the affirmative, the Party Wall Act will surely apply.

A chimney breast forms a part of the structure of a building. Its removal encompasses the cutting away of bricks that are bonded into the structural wall. Once removed, the structure will need to be supported, usually with steel beams. Removing a chimney breast involves many different phases, all of which, unless executed properly, can potentially cause an adjoining neighbour to suffer damage to their property, injury and/or unnecessary inconvenience. It is for this reason, that the Act is engaged. The Act’s objective is to ensure that whilst one party is not prohibited from exercising their rights, their exercise of such rights is not at another’s peril.

Any building owner who proposes to exercise their rights under section 2(g) of the Act in order to “cut away from a party wall, party fence wall, external wall or boundary wall any footing or projecting chimney breast……………..”, is, under section 3 of the Act, obliged to serve a Party Structure Notice, on any adjoining owner at least two months before the date on which the proposed works are to begin.

The Notice must include the name and address of the building owner, the nature and particulars of the proposed works, any plans, sections and details of construction and the date upon which the intended works are proposed to begin. It should be noted that a building owner only has 12 months from the date of service of the Notice to begin the works, failing which a new Notice would have to be served.

In response to a Party Structure Notice service, an adjoining owner has a couple of choices. The first is to serve a Counter Notice on the building owner. Effectively, this is a form of consent on the proviso of a set of conditions. A Counter Notice must be served on a building owner within one month of receiving the Party Structure Notice. The purpose of a Counter Notice is to ensure that a building owner carries out the work and any other work pertaining to, in this instance, a chimney breast removal, which may be reasonably required for the convenience of the adjoining owner. A building owner is legally obliged to comply with the conditions of the Counter Notice unless such conditions would cause injury, unnecessary inconvenience, or unnecessary delay to the execution of the works. The other choice an adjoining owner has is to refuse to consent to the Party Structure Notice. Such an action would trigger the engagement of a Party Wall Surveyor to resolve the disputed matters.

Icon Surveyors are happy to provide a Free Party Wall Consultation to any building or adjoining owners who may be affected by the subject matter raised in this blog.

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