Hello and welcome to Stokemont’s blog series! Today the focus of this blog will be on Party Wall Awards.
A Party Wall Award which is often referred to as a Party Wall Agreement is the final piece of the puzzle of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 procedures. A Party Wall Award is created when a neighbour dissents to a Party Wall Notice which has been served upon them.
To start with, what is a Party Wall Notice?
A Party Wall Notice starts the Party Wall procedures, and a building owner is required to serve Party Wall Notice on adjoining owners if they are either planning to build a new wall up to the line of junction, carry out works directly to a party wall or structure or if they are undertaking excavations within 3m of the adjoining property.
As an adjoining owner you will have three response options to a Party Wall Notice. Firstly, you can consent to the notice, this essentially allows your neighbours to proceed with their proposed works with no further Party Wall Act procedures.
Alternatively, adjoining owners can dissent to the notice and either appoint an ‘Agreed’ Party Wall surveyor or appoint their own independent Party Wall Surveyor.
If they go with this option, the surveyor(s) will visit the adjoining owner’s property to carry out a Schedule of Condition which you can read more about by clicking here.
Following on from this, the surveyor(s) will then write up the Party Wall Award and serve this upon both the adjoining owner and the building owner who is undertaking the proposed works. Once the surveyor has served this the building owner is free to proceed with their proposed works.
What is a Party Wall Award?
As previously mentioned, the Party Wall Award is the document which is produced at the end of the Party Wall Procedures. The document ensures that the adjoining owner is fully protected against any damage to their property which results from the notifiable works.
Essentially, the Party Wall Award governs the building owner’s works and brings benefits to both the building owner and the adjoining owner.
For example, the Party Wall Award will allow the building owner to gain access onto the adjoining owners land if required to safely complete the works.
Whilst, also benefitting the adjoining owners, as it ensures that they are adequately legally protected in the event of damage to their property.
So, what does the Party Wall Award consist of?
To start with the Party Wall Award has an introduction which sets out all the parties involved such as the full names of the building owners undertaking the works & the full names of the adjoining owners.
It will also set out which surveyors have been appointed for each party and who the third surveyor is.
In the next section of the Party Wall Award, the nature of the proposed works is described and only these works that are described can proceed.
Following on from this, there will be a section which sets out various requirements that the building owner must fulfil. These are guidelines which the surveyors have advised to reduce the level of nuisance to the adjoining owner & also reduce the level of risk to the adjoining property.
These guidelines could include different methods of construction which the contractors must adopt or the times in which the building owner can utilise access onto the adjoining owner’s property etc.
The Party Wall Award will also include a copy of the Schedule of Condition. A Schedule of Condition is a record of the condition of the adjoining owner’s property before the commencement of the works.
The Schedule of Condition assists in determining whether there has been damage to the adjoining property as a result of the works as it allows you to see a before and after of the condition.
Finally, the award will contain the architectural and structural drawings for the proposed works.
Disputing a Party Wall Award
If you are unhappy with a Party Wall Award, you can dispute it.
The process for disputing a Party Wall Award is set out in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. You will need to serve a Notice of Dispute on the other party, and you may also need to appoint a third surveyor.
The Benefits of Having a Party Wall Award
- It provides legal certainty.
- It can help to resolve disputes quickly and efficiently.
- It can help to avoid the need for legal action.
The Drawbacks of Having a Party Wall Award
- It can be expensive.
- The process can be time-consuming.
- The outcome of the award may not be in your favour.
The Types of Party Wall Award
- Full Awards: These are the most common type of Party Wall Award. They set out the terms and conditions of the works, including the method of construction, the schedule of works, and the payment of compensation.
- Interim Awards: These are used to resolve disputes that arise during the course of the works. They are usually temporary in nature, and they are superseded by a Full Award when the works are completed.
The Importance of Checking a Party Wall Award
It is important to check a Party Wall Award carefully before you agree to it. You should make sure that the award accurately reflects your understanding of the works, and you should also make sure that the award is fair and reasonable.
The Party Wall Procedures can be confusing at the best of times so feel free to give our team of experienced Party Wall Surveyors a call who would be happy to answer any of your questions.