Interesting Facts about the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 

Wooden singpost with "help, support, advice, guidance" arrows against blue sky.

1.  You cannot fire your party wall surveyor.

The only way an appointment or selection of a party wall surveyor can be terminated is if they die, or deem themselves incapable of acting and stand down. So be careful who you appoint. 

  1. Section 18 – Exception in case of Temples etc. and Section 19 – The Crown.

The Party Wall Act does not apply to land owned by The Honourable Society of the Inner temple, Middle Temple, Lincoln’s Inn or Gray’s Inn in inner London. It is however applicable to interests belonging to her Majesty in right of the Crown, a government department or an interest held in trust for Her Majesty. 

  1. Anyone can act as a party wall surveyor.

So long as they are not an owner within the meaning of the Act. It is however advisable to appoint a surveyor in London that is competent and experienced in party wall matters. 

  1. You can break into your neighbour’s property (please read the following sentence before doing so).

This can only be exercised in the case of absolute necessity and as a last resort following necessary notices. You must also be accompanied by a constable or police officer to break open any fences or doors in order to enter the premises. 

  1. What if there’s a dispute within the dispute?

In the event of a dispute, a neighbour may appoint their own surveyor to agree an award with the Building Owner’s surveyor. Between them, these surveyors will select a third surveyor to make a determination in the event that they cannot settle a dispute between themselves. Thankfully there is only one third surveyor so the dispute chain ends here. 

  1. The Party Wall Act has origins dating back to the 13th  Century

Up to 1996, it was only applicable to building work within inner London but has covered England and Wales since 1997. 

  1. You can unexpectedly receive money from your neighbour, in some cases.

If, for example, there is a shared party wall which forms the flank wall of your rear addition and your neighbour plans on also making use of this wall (for an extension), then they will have to pay you to make use of that section of wall. Even if the wall in question is 100 years old, they would owe you half of the cost of constructing the wall at today’s rates.


A Comparison Of House Price Increases With Other Items


Almost everyone we know tells us that residential property has increased at a phenomenal rate in recent years. However, it is sometimes difficult to put into perspective. The below article shows how much everyday items would cost if they had risen in line with house prices in London in 2016. It makes for interesting reading and makes you consider if people would put up with this level of increase in any other aspect of life.

Esra Gurkan For Mailonline

Loo roll for £61, £35 cheddar and ketchup at £15: #PricedOutLondoner reveals the cost of everyday items if their value had increased at the same rate as property.

  • House prices in London have risen drastically over the last 20 years
  • The stunt shows that a bottle of ketchup would cost £15.52 in Dalston
  • This is if food prices were in keeping with 676 per cent rise in the borough  

The cost of living in London always seems to be soaring, with prices for transport and everyday goods now higher than ever.

And don’t get the capital’s dwellers started on cost of the housing market. 

But now a tumblr campaign called #PricedOutLondoner is highlighting the dramatic rise in house prices by imagining how much groceries and essentials would cost if they had gone up by the same amount.

#PricedOutLondoner is sharing pictures of food prices in Tesco shops across London that they’ve altered to reflect house prices in the capital. 

Using the hashtag #pricedoutlondoner, the site reads: ‘House prices have risen by 938 per cent in Oval over the last 20 years.

If food prices had risen at the same rate, this is what you’d be paying.’ The photo shows the cost of one large avocado being £10.38.

The stunt shows how much items like avocados, tomato ketchup and nappies would cost in Tesco if prices mirrored the rate of inflation in different London boroughs.   

Similar statements are then repeated to represent different London boroughs. 

The campaign was started by Londoners Nathalie Gordon and Wren Graham, both 28-year-old advertising creatives, using house price data from Foxtons.

House prices have risen 938 per cent in Marylebone and so Cathedral City mature cheddar cheese would be priced at £36.33.

Nathalie told Huffington Post UK house prices affect everyone but, added: ‘I don’t think people realise quite how badly.’

The pair are calling for more homes to be built and rent caps to be put in place to help the situation.

‘As a country we can’t continue to ignore the fact that owning a house has become a luxury of the rich and not a right of all,’ she said.  ‘Owning a house has become an unrealistic goal for the majority of young people and one that is only getting worse.’Basmati rice in Camden would cost you £17.96 

The price of Heinz squeezy tomato ketchup in Dalston, which has risen 676 per cent, would be over £15.

The project demonstrates that if the price of Cathedral City mature cheddar cheese had increased by 938 per cent over the last 20 years – just as it had in Marylebone – it would cost £36.33.

If you lived in Camden, where house prices have jumped by 696 per cent, then you’d be paying £17.96 for Tesco Everyday Value Basmati rice.

The price of Heinz squeezy tomato ketchup would also have risen dramatically had it been in keeping with borough Dalston which has risen 676 per cent. It would cost you £15.52 just to be able to dip your chips into sauce.

Another condiment that would cost you is Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

Mayo would set you back £21.72 in Kensington.

House prices have risen by 732 per cent in Kensington over the last 20 years and so your mayo would set you back £21.72.  

With the rate of house prices in Churchill in Westminster having dramatically risen by 670 per cent, you’d find it difficult to be able to afford Pampers simply dry jumbo pack of 74 nappies for a whopping £73.15. 

In Queens Park, where prices have gone up 858 per cent, you’d be spending £9.10 on a two litre bottle of Evian mineral water.

Prices have gone up by 670 per cent in Westminster so you’d have to pay £9.65 for a Hovis granary loaf of bread these days.

House prices have risen by 744 per cent in Bayswater over the last two decades, meaning you’d be paying £10.89 for teabags.

Free range eggs would set you back £7.55.

Bayswater in West London has also seen a rise of 744 per cent, meaning we’d be paying £10.89 for our cherished PG Tips pyramid pack of 80 tea bags.

In Kensal Green, house prices have gone up by 748 per cent over the last two decades which would mean, if everyday items had risen with the rate of inflation, we’d have to pay £7.55 for six medium Tesco free range eggs.

Each egg, then, would set us back £1.26.

A bottle of supermarket wine would cost you over £50 in the West End where house prices have risen by 819 per cent.

Toilet paper would set you back £61.65 for 16 in Bryanston & Dorset Square in Westminster.

Westminster, with its increase in house prices of 819 per cent, would result in you paying £57.90 for supermarket wine Gallo Family Vineyards White Grenache. 

House prices have also risen 722 per cent in Bryanston and Dorset Square in Westminster since 1996, meaning you would be paying £61.65 for 16 rolls of Andrex toilet tissue if you lived there.

Nathalie said: ‘You wouldn’t put up with paying £30 for cheese, so why are we putting up with these ludicrous rates of inflation making owning a home nothing but a fantasy?’

Esra Gurkan For Mailonline


An Interview With An Expert


Mark Mason – Sinclair Johnston and Partners

Mark, what is a structural engineer?

Someone who is able to understand, predict and calculate the stability, strength and rigidity of constructional elements and who is able to develop designs and integrate their design with that of other designers.

Structural engineering is based upon applied physical laws and knowledge of the structural performance of different material and geometrics.  Utilising a number of relatively simple components we are able to build often complex, yet economic structural systems.

What kind of structures do you work on?

I work on a wide variety of structures that vary between historic buildings where conservation of the original fabric is of prime importance, to the design of new buildings that embrace modernist architectural ideas, often where the use of sustainable materials is of prime importance.

Can you tell us a bit about you and your company?

Sinclair Johnston and Partners were formed in 1983.  We have since grown steadily to the point where we are now 25 strong.  We are based in Southwark and specialise in the design of difficult inner city projects that are complicated by various Party Wall conditions and other physical constraints and which require innovative solutions.  We have developed an expertise in working sensitively with historic and often listed heritage buildings, but also work with leading architects on the design of imaginative contemporary buildings.

I have been involved in structural engineering for more than 40 years, working for a number of London’s leading consultants.  I joined SJ&P 1 year ago as a Technical Director and currently oversee a number of complex developments.

How do you see your role in the project team?

The most successful projects are often those where collaboration between the various team members is strong.  An early involvement in the design process allows us as structural engineers to directly influence the overall form of the new development in an economic and practical manner.  It can be enormously satisfying when a contribution can be incorporated within the final construction.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your projects?

The achievement of high quality in the design and construction processes, in the context of the inevitable pressures of time and cost constraints.

What tips would you give clients looking to carry out projects requiring structural engineering input?

Take advice and undertake background research so as to consider engineers with the experience appropriate to the project being considered.

Developing a personal relationship with the lead engineer is important.  Fee levels are of course a consideration but in the overall picture it is more important that a Client can trust and enjoy a collaborative and good working relationship with an engineer.

safety helmet and paper working plan of architecture with building sketching  construction

Subterranean Development Bill – interview with David Moon

Hello David.  Can you please tell me how you got to become chairman of the advisory panel to the House of Lords for the Subterranean Development Bill? 

Lord Selsdon, a senior peer who has enjoyed a varied career in politics and industry introduced a private members bill in 2014.  He approached me to assist with drafting the bill and I enlisted the help of several party wall surveyors, a structural engineer and a geotechnical expert. Lord Selsdon and I met in the course of a party wall matter at his home.  The advisory panel has since met several times and held meetings with government officials.

 What has this bill replaced?

There was no comparable legislation in place before this bill was introduced.  The closest legislation to the Subterranean Development Bill was the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. 

Can you tell us what this new bill will entail?

Essentially the new bill spreads the distance with which the work is notifiable to 9 metres away.  The Party Wall etc. Act is currently 6 metres.  There will be codes of practice for building work and codes of conduct for best possible practise which a developer will be bound to adhere to. 

What are the cost implications involved?

Since the distance will be increasing, more neighbours will be involved in notification so that some increase in professional costs is likely. 

Is this bill a good idea in your opinion?

Yes!  An excavation can take up to 2 years, everything moves – upwards when the load is lifted by removing soil and back down again when it’s loaded up with new structure.  Dust, noise and vibrations can all be extremely disruptive and this bill will create regulations to help basement construction become a less unneighbourly process! 

When will this bill be passed?

It was on hold while the coalition government was in power, and we were planning a meeting in the Summer.  The recent general election may have some impact on timetable but we hope there may still be a chance to introduce the bill in the next parliamentary session. 

What are the most popular reasons for building underground?

Swimming pools, garages, cinemas and gyms are all popular.  Even nightclubs sometimes! 

How do you think the bill will be received?

I think it’ll be welcomed.  I’ve been liaising with the Ladbroke Association – a local pressure group in Notting Hill who deal with all things property with a particular interest in basements.  Most pressure groups are well organised and are keen to promote good practise and control.  

Construction. Building a house, repair work. Real estate. Flat icons vector illustration.



Useful Tips When Going To Auction

A crowd of bidders at an auction. The focus is on the bidder's hands as he calls out bids.

After Davis Brown recently sold a commercial unit on Whitby Road in Ruislip with Andrew Scott Robertson we thought we’d provide some tips for both vendors and purchasers to get the most out of their investments.

For vendors:

When selling a property at auction the key thing is to be prepared in advance. Remember when the gavel hits the block the bidding is over, there is no negotiation afterwards.

  • Get your property valued! A market appraisal will be a good indicator of its value, and guidance on reserve price.
  • A legal pack with a condition of sale must be included in advance. It is important that all the necessary information is included in advance, so instruct a good solicitor.
  • Before the auction date, interested parties will want to inspect the building or site before they are prepared to bid big money. Make sure as much information is available and that there are opportunities to inspect.

For purchasers:

The auction room can be an exciting and potentially intimidating place for those who have not attended before. This can result in missing out on an opportunity or getting carried away (maybe getting overly competitive) and end up paying in excess of what a property is worth.

The first thing to remember is do your early research. If possible inspect the site and request all information available (such as title documents, planning information, tenancy details, etc.). Remember things are not always as good as they appear on paper!

A few things to consider on the day:

  • If you are a novice, maybe go as a spectator beforehand to experience the atmosphere and get a feel for how the bidding process works.
  • If you are very interested in a specific Lot arrive early and get a front seat. Auction rooms can get crowded, so you want the auctioneer to be able to easily see you.
  • Stay calm…! If you fail to get the property you were initially going for, don’t get caught in the moment and bid on something you didn’t want, panic buys are often purchases which people live to regret!
  • Remember when the gavel falls the transaction has been made. The successful bidder is required to pay 10% of the sale price upfront. So know your budget… decide on a maximum limit. You don’t want to be sucked in to paying well in excess of what you intended!

Davis Brown Features In The Sunday Times


We were absolutely thrilled to be featured in The Sunday Times where one of our properties on Clapham Common north side was showcased in all its glory. This particular property has a fascinating historical background since it was once occupied by writer and novelist Graham Greene, who lived here from 1935 until 1940.  You might know ‘The End of the Affair’, ‘Brighton Rock” or “The Power and the Glory”.

The property itself was simply stunning. Built in the Queen Anne era, the front façade is Grade II listed and featured classic wrought iron railings and rows of painted sash windows. The flat itself was well designed having only been refurbished 3 years ago.  It had been in the same family for over 10 years and we were delighted to act on their behalf with the sale.

What Can You Buy For £500K?

Europe skyline silhouette with different landmarks. Vector illustration. Business travel and tourism concept with place for text. Image for presentation, banner, placard and web site.

£500,000 – I think we can all agree this is a lot of money!  So the question is, how far will half a million pounds get you if you are searching for a property across Europe’s most sought after locations? Let’s first take a look at Paris. Paris. The city of inspiration, fashion, art and of course romance – who wouldn’t want to live there?! Well it comes at a price, €8,540 per square meter to be precise! And this is just the starting point. This can increase to €14,000/sqmtre (£1,138/sqft) for prime central Paris. A one bedroom is certainly achievable, however you would need a lot more than £500k should you wish to purchase a luxury apartment moments from world famous landmarks in Prime Central Paris!

The Spanish capital of Madrid offers huge attractions including the (often elusive in London) sunshine! It’s rich repositories of European Art and with its elegant boulevards and expansive parks, it’s certainly a very inviting city! But is it affordable for a first time buyer? According to Your Money National Blogs, houses within the central business district cost an average of €5,188 per square metre (£421/sqft). Accordingly to Zoopla, there are 68 properties on the market below £500k ranging from 2 – 5 bedrooms. The lack of new developments and modern office space means properties purchased would usually require some refurbishment works – however Spain is certainly on the rise following their economic downturn several years ago. To conclude, it is certainly more affordable than both London & Paris with the chance to secure a much larger property.

And finally let’s talk about our very own capital city – London.  With the average £/square foot at a staggering £1,763 you would do well to purchase a large studio apartment let alone a one bedroom above 400sqft in the centre of London – not to say that’s it impossible, however they are very difficult to come across. In today’s market there is always the opportunity to negotiate – so who knows what you could find! According to Rightmove, there are currently 23 available properties to buy under £500k. There’s no wonder London is renowned for being one of the most expensive cities in the world!  Davis Brown currently has a great 1 bedroom flat for sale in the heart of Fitzrovia, and it’s well under £500K!  (you can find this property on our website.).

With each capital city offering its own unique and famous attractions and their distinctive property designs, whether modern or traditional style – where would you choose?


To Buy Or Not To Buy? By John Eden, Surveyor

Low section view of a man standing by text Rent and Own with arrow sign represents the concept of home ownership.

I am approaching my 29th birthday and I notice that people my age are making many big life decisions, one of which being the purchase of their first home. As a result, I keep being asked when I will make that leap on to the housing ladder, and where or what will I buy. I am currently renting a flat in Westbourne Park, and although I am paying a reasonable rent, it is still difficult to save enough to allow me to properly contribute to a deposit large enough to make my first move.

In order to save enough money one has to first cut down on the initial costs and a good way of doing this is by spending less on rent.

One obvious saving scheme is to move back in with family; however this is only really possible if they live or have property available in commutable distance from where you are working (and also if you can stand the idea of moving back home after over ten years of living independently!).

Another way of saving some cash is to find cheaper rental alternatives. One option is shared accommodation; this can be a bit of a gamble, but if you ask the right questions when interviewing potential flatmates and choose like-minded people then things should go swimmingly!

 You could otherwise move a little further out into Greater London and beyond. This does however come with the increased commuting costs.

When it comes to buying your first home a number of things will have to be considered: should it be in a more central area, where sales prices are higher but where I would prefer to live, or should I branch out to into London’s commuter belt where I am likely to get more for my money?

If I were to stay in Central London, the likelihood is that I would get a small 1 or 2-bed flat that I would quickly grow out of and would be once again looking to move in the near future. Moving house is a relatively arduous process with lots of additional costs and spent time, whether it is refurnishing or dealing with the small bits of unexpected maintenance / repairs you find whilst moving in.

The other option would be to move further out of London and get more for my money, however in return I would have to sacrifice being less central with a longer commute and potentially having to suffer from Southern Rail strikes!

My parents seem to be the most eager for me to get on the housing ladder, however I strongly suspect that they have not realised how much the ‘Bank of Mum & Dad’ would be depended on. Not only would it be assisting with initial deposit, but then it is likely I would need them to cover a lot of the additional expenses coming from buying and moving into a new home. Unfortunately, it is unlikely this is going to change anytime soon because there is not enough housing to satisfy the demand of the first time buyers.

So what do I do? It’s weighing up all the pros and cons, and looking at it from my situation I currently live in a great flat with great connections in to central London, not to mention a private garden (something I wouldn’t be able to afford if I was to buy.). On top of that I have a good relationship with my Landlady, so when things do need repairing they are quickly resolved at no cost to me. So I think on that basis I will sit back and relax, for me – at my stage of life it’s just not necessary to be undertaking the extra financial stress.

“Why I chose a traditional agent over an online agent”

Handing over the house keys from one person to another.

“When the time came for me to sell my home, the dilemma of instructing an agent is hard enough, and with the rise of the online agent who charges a fraction of the price of a traditional high street agent, at the time it seemed a very tempting choice so that’s the route I decided to take.  Online agents will organise marketing materials such as photos and floorplans and the property is listed on property portals such as Rightmove & Zoopla.  All you have to do as the vendor is conduct the viewings, negotiate the price and boom – your property is sold!  Is all sounded so appealing and simple, I was sold!  Moving along a little further into the process and the difficulties started to appear; once my flat was listed I started to receive viewing requests, potential buyers wanted to view at all times of the day which is particularly inconvenient if you have a full time job. Buyers can also be very critical with their opinions, and this is not what you want to hear about your pride and joy (yes I am VERY house proud!).  And then there was dealing with the offers, which was to say the very least, a bit of a nightmare!   I soon came to realise my decision to use an online agent was the wrong one and as the enquiries dropped off, I decided to instruct a traditional agent (Davis Brown) to manage the sale.    

Only then did I start to realise all the invaluable work that traditional agents put in behind the scenes to help you sell your home.   First and foremost there is the personal touch – they talk to you and are there each and every step of the way; they take the pressure off when you simply don’t have the knowledge, energy or time to give to selling your property.   They have negotiating skills, they know where and how to market the property, and they act as leverage between the buyer and the seller.  They have the knowledge of the local area – what has sold and for how much, which properties have got planning permission – the list goes on, but to put it simply they have the experience that I didn’t!    

I have heard some horror stories about agents in the past, and this was why I decided initially to go down the online route, but if you take your time to find an experienced, professional agent it will honestly take a huge chunk of stress out of selling your home!”

An Interview With …….

Susan Battson – Residential & Commercial Property Manager at Davis Brown.

Where did you begin in the property industry and how old were you?

I started in the property industry in about 1984 and I began in a company called Batty Stevens Good in Museum Street in WC1, where I was a residential sales and lettings negotiator. I was probably about 24.

What kind of properties and clients were you dealing with in 1984?

We were based in Bloomsbury and I was dealing with properties around that area, stretching right down to the Barbican in EC2 and Clerkenwell. We dealt with a mixed portfolio of flats and houses. The Barbican was very modern whereas Bloomsbury was really quite traditional with lots of conversions where we had dealings with developers who were looking for buildings to convert.

Wow so there were even developers back then?!

There were! I’m not such a dinosaur after all!

And the kind of clients that you were dealing with then – was it fairly split? What kind of clients did have on your books and who did you primarily deal with?

In terms of lettings, we were letting to students but not really overseas student like you are nowadays, that is something far more recent, if there were students potentially more English students, otherwise they were just people looking for rentals because they weren’t buying a home in this country. The sales were people either looking for a second home or looking to live in central London. The Barbican was particularly popular for people looking for a second home. 

And what about the clients?

The clients were a complete mix of private individuals and portfolios.

What do you think has changed since you left the estate agency industry?

I think there has been a huge input from foreign investors and I think the pace has got much faster, I think there’s a lot more legislation you have to deal with as an agent and as a lettings negotiator – far more than we ever had to deal with. It’s much tighter, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I think a lot of it’s a very good thing, but I think there’s a lot more work that you have to do as an agent, especially in terms of a letting agent to get a deal through than you had to do back in my day.

How have the properties changed in your eyes?

The properties themselves I think are much improved, I think people want a much higher standard of property; I think they’re looking for clean, sharp lines and for good refurbished units, they’re looking for high quality. In those days, I’m going back over 20 years, people would often settle for a lot less, but then rents were a lot lower.

With the property market now, what do you see? What’s the first thing that comes to your

head when you think of the market now?

How high the prices are!

How do you think the buyer has changed in the last 30 years?

Well again, I think there are a lot more foreign investors than there were before. A lot of the young people who are buying have much more parental help these days, which we didn’t have before. I think that’s because prices are quite high. So maybe we have families buying into a property with their children, to get them started in central London.

Where do you see the property market in the next year and then within the next 10 years?

That’s a really difficult question! I think it’s probably slowed down a bit in central London, I think it’s almost peaked.  But I think London is always going to remain very popular, it’s a global capital city, everybody who wants to come to England is drawn to London, so there will always be great demand here. But I think, as has been historic, there are peaks and troughs, and that’ll continue. Where it’ll be in the next 10 years is anybody’s guess. 

        Have a guess?

I’m sure it’ll be on the increase. 

Do you think buyers will change?

I think the buyers will change. I’m not quite sure how the young people are going to be able to sustain buying in central London with the prices that they are. I think that with the salaries that people are on, I’m not sure that that is going to be sustainable. Depends what happens to London prices.

        Did you have your kind of ‘top deal’ in the 1980s – your        favourite property which you let or sold, and whereabouts was it?

Oh, I had a top development deal which was in Bloomsbury and I’d worked on that for months and months and I can’t remember the name of the street, it was adjacent to Museum Street. It was a building that we’d sold to be converted into flats.   But I really, really also enjoyed working down in the Barbican, because that’s where I went to school. I think it’s a fascinating place and I thought the flats were quite quirky. They were actually at that time, beginning to become almost slightly dated because they were built probably in the 1970s, and so by the 1980s they were beginning to need a little bit of interior work being done to them, but the time I spent on the Barbican was a very interesting, fascinating time and there were great deals to be done there and it was a lot of fun!