In today’s property surveying blog post, we are going to be looking at Party Wall Surveying matters. This post will take a focused and detailed look at Party Wall Awards and the effects we believe are important for both building owners and adjoining owners alike to be fully aware of.
The Party Wall Award is the legal document that concludes Party Wall Surveying procedures. Commonly also referred to as Party Wall Agreement, an Agreement and an Award of one in the same thing.
Party Wall Agreements can only be in place when the procedures and protocols set out in The Party Wall etc Act 1996 have been followed and adhered to.
The Party Wall Award itself represents the end of the Party Wall Surveyor’s role in the Party Wall matter with the Award being the vessel and document which gives the building owner the legal right to undertake their planned works, while also giving the adjoining owner the full protection and benefit of The Party Wall etc Act 1996.
We are going to be taking a brief look at the type of typical inclusions that will form part of a Party Wall Award so that you are fully equipped to understand what to expect when you are going through the Party Wall procedure yourself.
First and foremost, the Party Wall Agreement is a legal document, in fact is one of the few legal documents that can be prepared by a Property Surveyor, as opposed to legal professionals such as Solicitors or Barristers.
This will make the Party Wall Award distinctly different to your typical contract. Generally speaking, here at Stokemont believe the content of the Award is going to be far more practical when it contains clauses that are less legal and more along the lines of instructions for the building owner and their contractors to adhere to in due course.
The Party Wall Award will definitely set out who the prospective owners are, both of the building owner and the adjoining owners.
Furthermore, it is to confirm the prospective owner service address so that if there is any issue only to contact one another, the information is readily available.
Party Wall Surveyors
The Party Wall Award is also going to confirm the names and details of the applicable Party Wall Surveyors.
This will vary depending on the type of Party Wall Award that has been agreed, but generally speaking it is going to include the building owners Party Wall Surveyor’s details, the adjoining owners Party Wall Surveyor and the third Party Wall Surveyor’s details.
Again, the premise that is behind this is to ensure that the recipient and the readers of the Award have an easy form of contact to the various different parties.
It should be worth noting that the Third Surveyor should always be made aware to the prospective owners, the building owner and the adjoining owner, well in advance of the service of the Award itself
Confirmation of Agreed Works
The Party Wall Award will also set out works that the building owner has the right to do.
This is unlikely to be sitewide, and instead is going to be restricted to the elements of the work within the realm of The Party Wall Act etc 1996.
The logic and intention behind this is to ensure that the Party Wall Award only deals with the works that the Act gives it the right to and its causes and provisions are limited to those particular construction works.
This is often a misunderstood element of the Party Wall Award, as many owners will mistakenly believe it to be sitewide, which is not the case.
The Party Wall Award can only deal with the Party Wall element of the works, so to put this in perspective if a building owner was planning on undertaking a loft conversion, the only notifiable (Party Wall Works) element of the work would be the removal of the roof covering and the insertion of the steel beams into the Party Wall.
All other works are the result by way of the loft conversion would be outside of the Party Wall Award.
Schedule of Condition Reports
The Party Wall Award will also include the copy of the Schedule of Condition Report of the Party Wall Surveyor has undertaken.
Schedule of Condition Reports will be undertaken prior to the building owners works commencing the Report will focus on the adjoining owner’s property going room to room internally and elevation to elevation externally to ensure that there is a robust and thorough record of the condition prior to the works commencing.
While the Schedule of Condition will be a written record, there are likely to be hundreds, if not thousands of photographs on file with the prospective Party Wall Surveyors.
The Schedule of Conditions Report is in our opinion here at Stokemont one of the pivotal parts of the Party Wall Process and Award.
It protects the adjoining owner in the event of any damage, equally it protects the building owner in the event of any invalid damage claim.
Construction Working Hours
The Party Wall Award is also going to definitively set out the construction working hours of the building owner is permitted to work on.
As set out earlier in this blog post, this work is going to be restricted to the Party Wall elements of the construction work so this stipulation is going to be restricted to the Party Wall elements of the work.
Again, this will mean the working hours do not govern the sitewide work, however instead govern the particular Party Wall works themselves.
Sitewide works will be governed by the local authority working hours which are vis a vis obtainable through a basic Google search or checking your local authority’s website.
The Party Wall Award will also contain construction drawings, the drawings themselves are going to clearly and simply set out the plan works. However, as confirmed earlier in this blog post, these are likely to be restricted to the Party Wall elements of the job itself.
For this reason, it is unlikely to find a significant number of drawings that form part of the Award, simply because in many cases the Party Wall elements of the works are going to be restricted to a handful of drawings.
Alternatively, a Party Wall Surveyor may include only the drawings that specifically relate to the planned works, thereby ensuring that the Party Wall Award is streamlined and it is easy to adhere to as possible.
Once a Party Wall Award is agreed, it gives the building owner the legal right to commence planned works.
Upon the service of a Party Wall Award both the building owner and the adjoining owner alike will have the opportunity to appeal the Award itself as per Section 10(17) of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, set out as follows;
Either of the parties to the dispute may, within the period of fourteen days beginning with the day on which an award made under this section is served on him, appeal to the county court against the award and the county court may— (a) rescind the award or modify it in such manner as the court thinks fit; and (b) make such order as to costs as the court thinks fit.
An often misunderstood part of The Party Wall etc Act 1996 and service of the Party Wall Award, is the appeal period of 14 days set out above is a statutory requirement and the building owner must hold or pause planned works during this period of time.
We can confirm, this is definitively not the case, once the building owner is in receipt of the Party Wall Award provided to them by the Party Wall Surveyor, or Party Wall Surveyors they have the legal rights to undertake the works without any delay.
Party Wall Surveying procedures while simple on the surface are naturally complex. They are the perfect blend between legal input and practical property knowledge.
If you would like to discuss Party Wall Surveying procedures with our team of experienced and qualified Party Wall Surveyors, then feel free to give a call today or pop us an email, we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.