Thank you for clicking on today’s property surveying blog post topic. Through today’s informative blog post here at Stokemont, we are going to be taking a look at party wall surveying procedures.
In particular, we are going to be taking a look at the procedures that will come to light if indeed, the building owner’s party wall works cause damage to an adjoining owner’s property.
Unfortunately, party wall damage is a common knock-on effect of the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 and party wall works.
If indeed, party wall damage does occur to an adjoining owner’s property, at that point the party wall surveyor or party wall surveyors will be tasked with handling, determining and ultimately resolving the damage claim.
First and foremost, the party wall surveyor will want to ensure that the damage that has been alleged by the adjoining owner is indeed new damage caused, and as a result of the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 and the works that the building took that fall within the realm of that Act.
Once they have established the party wall damage is new, the next step to take is how exactly it is a result of the building owner’s construction works.
This will be achieved through assessing the party wall works that took place, along with the damage that occurred. The party wall surveyor will then form an opinion and professional take on the likely link and relation between these two respective points.
Schedule of Condition reports are one of the key documents that a party wall surveyor will rely upon when assessing and reviewing party wall damage. A Schedule of Condition report would have been undertaken prior to the building owner’s party wall works commencing and importantly, this surveyor’s inspection and report will go room to room internally, face to face externally, ensuring there is a full and robust property condition record in place of the adjoining owner’s property prior to the building owner’s works commencing.
The record itself can either be photographic or written, or even a combination of both.
The type of report that was undertaken will very much depend on the proximity of the works to the room or area of the adjoining owner’s property that is being affected.
Generally speaking, the closer the room in respect of the party wall works, the more robust and thorough the Schedule of Condition report is going to be.
If indeed the adjoining owner does allege damage, the next step the party wall surveyor is going to take is to check and review the pre-work Schedule of Condition report.
This is going to definitively set out the area of damage that is being alleged is new, or alternatively was noted in the original pre-works report.
If the damage is new, and the surveyor believes there to be a strong link between the party wall works that have taken place and the respective damage, at that stage the party wall surveyor is then going to administer the procedures as set out in Section 10 of the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 and importantly, as per the wording of the Party Wall Award, and in particular, the Award’s damage clause.
Party wall damage can be a worrying time for adjoining owners, as they will not only have suffered from the conventional banging and clattering that can come with neighbouring works, however at this stage they will also have the unsightly outcome of damage and the worrying cracks and issues that can come with that.
When party wall damage occurs, there are two procedures that the adjoining owner can opt for in repair and making good.
Damage Procedure 1
Damage procedure 1 will give the adjoining owner the legal right to request that the building owner’s contractor make good, remedy and rectify the damage that has been caused. The building owner will be duty bound to make good the damage, with the contractor having to prioritise the making good, to ensure the adjoining owner’s nuisance is kept to an absolute minimum.
In our experience here at Stokemont, by allowing a building owner’s contractor to rectify and make good, often results in the adjoining owner’s property gaining some form of betterment, as effectively the adjoining owner will be saving the building owner costs and funds, as they won’t have to pay for a new contractor as set up by Option 2.
Damage Procedure 2
Damage procedure 2 is the scenario whereby an adjoining owner requests a payment in lieu.
A payment in lieu, in laymans terms, is simply a cash payment. The adjoining owner can then use this cash payment to instruct their own contractor to visit, make good and repair.
In giving an adjoining owner this legal right, the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 is considering that there are owners who may not want to engage with the building owner, or indeed with the contractor who has caused the resulting damage.
Option 2 is a more time intensive procedure for the party wall surveyor to administer. This generally comes into play because the party wall surveyor will need to quantify the damage that has occurred.
Quantifying damage will generally be through construction, rates or indices such as SPONS or BCIS.
Alternatively, the party wall surveyor can rely upon contractor quotations. However, it is worth noting that contractor quotation can often be skewed, and is quite a time intensive procedure in order to obtain a good range and variation of contractor quotes.
It goes without saying that party wall damage is stressful. Here at Stokemont, we would advise that the party wall surveyor deals with it as quickly as possible. This will go a long way to ensuring that the adjoining owner’s concerns are addressed sooner rather than later.
Furthermore, it will also go a long way to resolving any disputes, whilst also ensuring a neighbourly relationship is upheld and maintained.
If you would like to discuss your party wall procedures with our team of qualified and experienced RICS party wall surveyors, please feel free to give us a call today and we will happily offer you 30 minutes free, no strings advice. Alternatively, if you would like to pop in any plans, drawings or party wall notices, please feel free to do this via our contact page and we will be more than happy to review those and advise accordingly.