Are you about to undertake works to or near a shared Party Wall? Or, are you concerned about your neighbour’s planned works? With our expert help, we can efficiently deal with all Party Wall matters.
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What is a Party Wall?
A Party Wall is a dividing partition between two adjoining buildings that are shared by the occupants.
Why Do You Need a Party Wall Surveyor?
When you decide to have work done to or near a neighbour’s wall, you have a legal duty to serve a Party Wall Notice to all affected neighbours.
A “building owner” is the person carrying out the works, whereas the “adjoining owner” is the neighbour not carrying out the works.
An official agreement must be in place between the building owner and the adjoining owner for work to commence.
Suppose an adjoining owner does not consent to the proposed works within 14 days of receiving notice under the Party Wall, etc. Act 1996, the parties will be deemed “in dispute.” At this point, both building owner and adjoining owner will need to appoint a surveyor for an agreement to be settled.
Notifiable works under the relevant sections of the Act (such as excavating within 3 metres of a neighbouring foundation) will require a notice. By serving such a notice, this invokes the Party Wall, etc. Act 1996.
Once the Act has been invoked, an adjoining owner (one who has had a notice served upon them) may consent or dissent. Dissenting to a notice will require a Party Wall Award to be drawn up by the surveyor(s).
If a dispute occurs between the building owner and adjoining owner before or after the Award has been served, they would then bring this to the surveyor(s), who would have an impartial quasi-judicial role in resolving the dispute.
The surveyor(s) would inspect the property and reason with what has occurred within the framework of the Party Wall Award. Often, these issues can be resolved efficiently and without involving lawyers. Problems such as illegal works are covered under common law; however, Party Wall Awards often have the function of negating court action.
This is the purpose of the Act: to achieve resolve between neighbours in a bid to avoid costly legal proceedings.
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A Party Wall Award is a legally binding agreement that can nevertheless be
used in court.
It contains all the relevant details from:
- the building owners and adjoining owners
- the type and description of works
- relevant sections of the Act applicable to the works
The Award should also include all architect’s plans;
engineer’s drawings/calculations; ground investigation reports; and method statements for more tricky areas in order to set out exactly how the works are to be carried out. This documentation helps keep the surveyor(s) and adjoining owner informed of precisely what is occurring next door as permitted under the Act (e.g. where the foundations will be built).
Deviating From the Agreement
Once an Award is drafted, there can be no deviation from the notifiable works without the owners’ or surveyors’ written permission. Suppose deviations from the plans and notifiable works occur: this can be brought to the building owner’s attention to rectify, preventing a contractor from potentially carrying out any (further) illegal works. If unauthorised works continue, an injunction may be taken out by the adjoining owner.
The Party Wall Award also sets out the building owners’ obligations, such as providing support to retain the neighbouring land and buildings: this will include protection measures against even minor issues, such as dust and debris resulting from the works. The building owner will be held responsible for keeping the neighbouring property free from defects and nuisances.
The Award will ensure that the building owner is held responsible for any damages occurring due to the notifiable works. If damages occur to a neighbouring property, the adjoining owner can communicate this to the building owner via their surveyor to achieve resolution. However, disagreements can happen, and it’s not always clear-cut.
A Party Wall Award usually includes a Schedule of Condition: this details any pre-existing damage to the adjoining owner’s property and forms a part of the documents registered in the Award. If neighbours are in disagreement about damages, they can then refer to the surveyor(s) to award damages if applicable. The Schedule of Condition will help prove whether damages occurred as a result of the works.
Adjoining Owner's Surveyor Fees
We are appointed to oversee matters related to the Party Wall and are not involved in the building project. Therefore, we can act as an Agreed Surveyor to both the building owner and adjoining owners. However, if you are a building owner and your neighbour’s (adjoining owners) decide to appoint their surveyor, you will be responsible for their fees, which must be reasonable. These are likely to be charged at an hourly rate of between £100 and £250.
At Prinsegate, we try to minimize the adjoining owner’s surveyor’s time by providing them with all the information they require from the offset and keeping to only essential negotiations.
Why You Should Appoint Prinsegate
Our team of Chartered Surveyors has extensive property experience and is here to provide you with the best support.
The following are reasons why we are fast becoming the go-to Party Wall surveying service in the UK. We offer:
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There are many more elements that make up an award. Give us a call for FREE advice regarding the Party Wall Act.