If you are undertaking any building work that impacts upon a shared wall, boundary or outbuilding, you must obtain the consent of all adjoining owners before any works can commence. This is known as a Party Wall Agreement and, to get things moving, a Party Wall Notice detailing the planned works must be issued. Whilst this is something you can handle yourself, many property owners choose to appoint party wall surveyors for reassurance that the process is handled correctly.
In this post, we are exploring the subject of what happens during a party wall survey in the event that you go down the route of appointing a party wall surveyor to issue your Party Wall Notice.
Why appoint accredited party wall surveyors?
Whilst serving your own Party Wall Notice is not outlawed, there are advantages to be had in appointing a specialist party wall surveyor to take care of the work.
This is an approach that can save time and reduce the costs of a Party Wall Agreement in the long term, by making sure the notice is correctly issued, and that the adjoining owners are aware of their rights and what’s involved. This can help to avert any potential disputes, and makes it more likely for the adjoining owners to agree to the works.
Party wall surveyors will provide you with tailored guidance on your obligations and responsibilities under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, as well as on the party wall procedure in general.
This guidance is highly valuable, as many building owners – and adjoining owners - are not clear on what is involved and can sometimes misunderstand their rights, which can throw up issues and sometimes result in unnecessary disputes and delays.
What happens during a party wall survey?
A party wall survey involves the surveyor reviewing the building owner’s plans, structural designs and drawings.
If required, a visit to the property will be made to fully understand the extent of the works, and to identify any potential issues that may result in adjoining owners dissenting to the Party Wall Notice.
Adjoining owners are sometimes hesitant to consent to a Party Wall Notice for fear of damage being caused to their property, and not having any evidence to prove that it was a result of the neighbouring building works.
Where this is identified as an issue, a Schedule of Condition can be included as part of the party wall survey.
A Schedule of Condition is a factual record of the condition of a property. It details the current condition of the affected parts of the adjoining property in advance of works beginning. The cost to the building owner of arranging a Schedule of Condition as part of the party wall survey is usually less than appointing a surveyor to prepare a Party Wall Award, should the neighbour dissent the Party Wall Notice.
Also, when looking at what happens during a party wall survey, it is important to mention that the party wall surveyor will prepare any statements of protection covering the adjoining owner’s property. These statements will include specific instructions that the building owner’s contractor must adhere to during the works, such as parking and access, working hours, clearing up mess and keeping noise to a minimum.
Finally, if the neighbour gives their written approval (assent) to the works, then the party wall survey will culminate in a Party Wall Agreement. If, however, the neighbour challenges the works or fails to respond to the Party Wall Notice within 14 days (dissent), then a Party Wall Award will be required. This step can only be taken care of by a party wall surveyor. A single surveyor can be appointed to act for both the building owner and adjoining owner, or each can appoint their own. Either way, the costs are down to the building owner.
Even in cases where the adjoining owner agrees to the works, A Party Wall Award can still be prepared as a voluntary option for building owners who are keen to have everything documented.
Whether you’re undertaking construction works that fall under the Party Wall Act, or you’ve been served a Party Wall Notice, RICS accredited Icon Surveyors is ready to help with clear, qualified advice and reassuringly transparent party wall surveying pricing.
We offer 15 minutes of free telephone advice. There’s no obligation, and we’ll put the advice in writing if you need it. Contact us today and we’ll answer all your questions, from what happens during a party wall survey, to how to improve your chances of adjoining owners agreeing to your Party Wall Notice.