Thank you for clicking on today’s property surveying blog. In this informative blog post, we are going to be looking at Party Wall Awards, also commonly referred to by the general public as Party Wall Agreements.
Party Wall Awards are the concluding document that will be agreed as part of the procedures as set out by the Party Wall Etc Act 1996.
In particular, the Party Wall Award will regularise the procedures that have been followed prior to the Award’s agreement. However, importantly, they will also give the building owner the legal right to progress their planned construction works and party wall works without any further procedure or delay.
In this blog post, we intend to make you fully aware of what to expect, and have a better understanding of what the content means.
It is important to bear in mind that a Party Wall Award is a legal document. This means there is going to be a degree of legal recitals within and throughout the award.
The intention and aim of this is to ensure that a legally valid document is prepared and agreed which, as previously set out, gives the building owner the legal right to progress the work. However, importantly, and often one of the main driving forces behind a Party Wall Award gives the adjoining owner legal protection in the event of issue, cost, or damage.
Construction Work Consideration
The next type of common clause you will find within a Party Wall Award are clauses relating to the planned construction works.
These may be as simple as setting out how the works are to be undertaken, or can even be as complicated or complex as setting out specifics on how they will be undertaken by the contractor on site.
In any event, the Award is going to have a fair few referrals to the works and the manner in which the party wall surveyor or party wall surveyors have agreed for them to be undertaken.
The Party Wall Award will also include a clause which confirms how any damage to the adjoining owner’s property will be dealt with. Importantly, the clause is going to set out exactly what needs to be done in the event of damage. Furthermore, what will be done in the event of dispute, resulting from that damage.
Construction Work Timings
The Party Wall Award will set out the timings to which the building owner and the building owner’s contractor are going to be permitted to undertake the planned party wall works. It is important to note that the allowances and permitted hours for party wall works will often differ and vary from the hours set out by the Local Authority. We would therefore advise that the Party Wall Award is carefully read, and in particular, the construction clause working hours, so that the building owner and their contractors are fully abreast of this and do not make any mistakes in that regard.
The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 does give a building owner the legal right of access onto an adjoining owner’s land. The Party Wall Award will set out if indeed this right has been agreed. Indeed, if it has been agreed, what provisions and precautions the building owner and building owner’s contractor need to adhere to in order to ensure the knock on effect and nuisance associated with that access is as low as it can possibly be to the adjoining owner.
Schedule of Condition Report
The Party Wall Award will also include the Schedule of Condition report of the adjoining owner’s property that will have been undertaken prior to the proposed party wall works commencing. The Schedule of Condition report itself is going to be a comprehensive record which will often go room to room, as well as covering external aspects. It will include various, different descriptions and references to the condition as well as hundreds, if not thousands of photographs that the party wall surveyor would have taken at the time of the Schedule of Condition inspection.
The Party Wall Award will naturally include the construction drawings covering the building owner’s planned works.
Importantly, it may not be the full Building Regulations pack that is included, or even a set of working drawings, however it will be those drawings that are restrictive to the party wall element of the construction works and therefore, building owners and adjoining owners can expect to see a slimmed down pack of drawings within the Party Wall Award.
Contractor Method Statement
The next common clause and addition to Party Wall Awards will be a method statement as to how the contractor is expected to undertake the planned works.
This may be confirmation of tools to be used, the manner in which those tools are to be used, and even when they are to be used.
Contractor method statements tend to be reserved for those more complicated parts of the construction project. Commonly, we would expect to see things like underpinning statements and the like, forming part of the Party Wall Award.
Party Wall Awards, or Party Wall Agreements, are served upon the conclusion of party wall surveyor or party wall surveyors review, input and ultimate agreement of the party wall works. As previously set out, the Party Wall Award will give the building owner the legal right to commence their work without further delay or procedure.
An often misunderstood part of a Party Wall Award is that a building owner needs to wait a 14-day statutory appeal period before they’re legally allowed to commence the works. We can confirm that this is not the case. As soon as the Party Wall Award has been agreed and served, the building owner has the legal right to progress the works set out within that Award without further delay or formality.
Once the Party Wall Award has been served, it is common for the building owner to share a copy of this with their construction team, whether that be their architect, engineer, or contractor. The key point is to ensure that all professionals working on the project are fully aware of the Award’s content, so they can ensure it is adhered to, administered and followed.
If you would like to discuss party wall surveying procedures with our team of qualified and experienced party wall surveyors, please feel free to give us a call today and we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.