The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides the framework to resolve “disputes” between a building owner (the party undertaking construction works) and an adjoining owner (the neighbouring property to the building owner).
The Party Wall etc Act 1996, covers three particular types of works:
- Excavation within a 6m proximity, to buildings or structures.
- Building a new wall up to a shared boundary, or building a wall on a shared boundary. (creating a Party Wall)
- Works directly to a party wall or Party fence wall.
Upon receipt of a Party Wall Notice You have the following response options
Party Wall Notice, Response Option 1: Party Wall Notice, Consent.
An owner who has been informed of party wall works via a Party Wall Notice, that consents. Confirms, they give consent to the works proceeding, without a party wall surveyor’s input.
Here at Icon Surveyors, we advise undertaking a schedule of conditions, this is a written and photographic record of your property, undertaken and produced prior to commencing any work. This protects adjoining owner’s if any damage happens, as well as the building owner’s in the event of inappropriate claims of damage.
Party Wall Notice, Response Option 2: Dissent and appoint an Agreed Surveyor
An owner that “disputes” the construction works and party wall notice, essentially means they would like to have the input of a party wall surveyor, they have the option of appointing a singular party wall surveyor, they can then agree to a Party Wall Award.
The Party Wall Award is a legal document, confirming the permitted work, when and how it will be undertaken, working hours, rights of both parties such as rights to compensation and land access, who will pay for which part and how much.
The Party Wall Surveyor is required under statute to act impartially, within the remit of the law.
The Surveyor usually undertakes a site inspection for a Schedule of Condition of the adjoining owner’s property, whilst on-site ensuring the work will not have a negative impact on the adjoining properties. If change is required, updated designs from the engineer or architect and any additional information must be reviewed or requested. Upon the completion of the work, the Surveyor usually returns to review the adjoining property and if damage has occurred.
Party Wall Notice, Response Option 3: Dissent and appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor
In this instance, both the building owner and the adjoining owner will have separate party wall surveyors acting for them.
The two Surveyors undertake the same duties previously mentioned, both Surveyors duty-bound to act impartially. The building owner is responsible for paying, both the adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor’s reasonable fees and their own.
The logic is the adjoining owner should not be out of pocket for construction works that do not benefit them. The obvious disadvantage is the Surveyors’ fees are higher for the building owner, and given there will be two surveyors looking at plans, proposals, site inspections etc, the time taken to complete the party wall procedures and eventually serve the Party Wall Award will increase.
The biggest concern for a building owner is the potential cost is the adjoining owner’s Surveyors’ fees as more often than not they will be calculated at an hourly rate.
However, there is recent case law that could assist a building owner in obtaining the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor.
If you would like to learn more about Party Wall Notices, feel free to give our qualified and experienced Party Wall team a call now, we will be happy to assist.