In this blog post, Icon Surveyors will discuss, what are the benefits of having a Party Wall Award.
Let’s understand first, What is the Party Wall Award?
Party Wall Award is a legally binding document which governs the notifiable works under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and it protects the relevant parties to a Party Wall Award mainly from any damage or negligent claims being made. The Award itself is also used as a mechanism to help minimise disruptions to an adjoining owner and set parameters in place to ensure the works are done in such a way that it will minimise any possible damages to occur.
A Party Wall Award is only required when there is a dispute to a Party Wall Notice, when a notice is issued to an adjoining owner, they have the right to either consent to a Party Wall Notice which would essentially mean they do not want any Surveyor input and any issues/damages that may occur would have to be dealt with directly with the building owner carrying out the works in a civil manner. An adjoining owner also has the right to dissent to a Party Wall Notice and choose to use an ‘Agreed Surveyor’ (Use the same surveyor as the building owner carrying out the works. The Agreed Surveyor would have to act impartially as advised by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996) or the adjoining owner could opt to choose a surveyor of their own choice, the total cost of which would have to be covered by the building owner carrying out the works.
In the event of a dissent occurring whether it be as an Agreed Surveyor or as two separate surveyors, there is generally a set process to follow to ensure the different aspects of the build have been considered and assessed to ensure the theory behind the proposed build is safe for both the building owner to go ahead with the works. Once the Surveyor(s) have assessed the scheme the normal course of action would be to schedule a site visit at the adjoining owner’s property to carry out a ‘Schedule of condition’ Inspection. This inspection usually entails a descriptive and photographic record of the adjoining owner’s property relative to the area of the build in the building owner’s property and the areas it is most likely to affect in the adjoining owner’s property. The purpose of this inspection is to record the condition of the adjoining owner’s property before any works are to commence at the building owner’s property, this report can then be used as a reference point should any damage occur during the build or after the build is complete. This would determine if damage has likely occurred in relation to the notifiable works or if this is pre-existing or occurred for another reason. This protects both the adjoining owner and building owner as the adjoining owner will be protected should damage occur and the building owner will be protected as the adjoining owner cannot fabricate a claim for damage within their property.
Once the Schedule of Condition Survey is complete, the wording of the award is put together. Within this, there will be specific clauses relevant to the type of work taking place at the building owners’ property. As mentioned above, these clauses are designed to protect the adjoining owner’s property, minimise risk by listing measures that are to be applied prior to or during the build and a general outline to minimise disruption to the adjoining owner.
The Party Wall Award should contain the list of clauses mentioned above,
- the Schedule of Condition report relating to the adjoining owner’s property, and
- relevant architect/structural drawings which reinforce what works are taking place and
- changes being made to the property.
Sometimes, Structural Calculations may also be included if relevant to the type of work. Here at Icon Surveyors, we are happy to provide a free 30 minute consultation of impartial party wall advice to anyone who is considering a project that involves the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.