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Section 6 of the Party Wall etc Act 1996

Jan 10, 2023

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Thank you for clicking on today’s Property Surveying blog post.  In today’s informative instalment of our weekly surveying blog post we are going to be looking at party wall surveying matters through the perspective of a party wall surveyor.

Here at Stokemont, party wall surveying is one of the larger services that we offer as a firm.  We undertake party wall surveying services throughout both England and Wales, however naturally being located in London find that the vast majority of the surveying files that we handle are local to us.

This week we are going to be looking at the finer parts of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and particularly adjacent excavation. 

Excavations are covered by Section 6(1) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

The requirement of the Act ensures that a building owner has a legal duty and requirement to serve a Party Wall Notice upon an adjoining owner prior to their planned construction works commencing.

Statutory Notice Period

This Party Wall Notice must be served a minimum of one month prior to planned construction works. 

This one month statutory timing being set out by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. 

Section 6(1) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies in the following scenarios:

  • The planned excavations are deeper than the adjoining owner’s foundations.
  • The planned excavations are within 3m of the adjoining owner’s foundations.

Providing that both of these points are applicable, the building owner will then have to serve the Party Wall Notice that we have touched on above. 

In response to this Party Wall Notice the adjoining owner will have the following Party Wall Notice response options.

Party Wall Notice Response Options

Consenting

Consenting to the Party Wall Notice will mean that the adjoining owner reserves the protection that the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affords them.

In layman’s terms, this will mean that the formalities and procedures set out within the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 will not be followed.

The building owner will be free to commence their planned construction works without any further form of delay or issue. 

Dissenting, Agreed Surveyor

Upon the dissent to a Party Wall Notice, the adjoining owner will have two distinct notice response options.

The first is they can dissent to the Party Wall Notice and appoint an agreed party wall surveyor. 

An agreed party wall surveyor will act impartially on behalf of both the building owner and the adjoining owner. 

The agreed party wall surveyor’s role will be to administer the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and ensure that a Party Wall Award is agreed.

Separate Party Wall Surveyors

The other Party Wall Notice dissent option is that the adjoining owner can appoint their own party wall surveyor.

If they select this option, the building owner will likewise then need to do the same. 

These two respective surveyors will act wholly on behalf of their appointing owners and work towards the agreement of a Party Wall Award. 

Schedule of Condition Report

A schedule of condition report will always form part of a Party Wall Award, whether that is an internal or external one.

A schedule of condition report is a robust and comprehensive condition record that is take of the adjoining owner’s property in advance of the planned works commencing. 

The aim and purpose of the schedule of condition report is to ensure that there is a comprehensive record of the neighbouring property in place.

The aim here being that if there is any allegation of damage or issues relating to the works, the building owner is able to categorically confirm whether they are responsible for this damage.

Equally, it will give the adjoining owner the all necessary proof and peace of mind in respect of any damage allegations that they raise.

Schedule of condition reports can take anywhere from 1 hour to 5 hours, depending upon the size of the adjoining owner’s property. 

The scope of the schedule of condition report will very much vary depending upon the type of work that is taking place at the building owner’s property. 

Generally speaking, the more complex or risky the building owner’s work, the more thorough and wide the schedule of condition is going to be. 

Here at Stokemont, we are very proud to offer our own schedule of condition reports privately to clients.  However, we are also equally proud to offer schedule of condition services to other surveying companies within the profession. \

SOC Direct

At SOC Direct we are very proud to offer schedule of condition services to:

  • Architects
  • Contractors
  • Engineers
  • Surveyors
  • Property estate agents
  • Managing agents
  • Decorators
  • Interior designers
  • Solicitors.

SOC Direct gives our fellow practitioners a fantastic opportunity to gain an all important cost and time effective service.  That service being undertaken by our own in-house building surveyors here at Stokemont.  SOC Direct ensures that you get an experienced and qualified party wall surveyor handling the matter, thereby ensuring issues and problems are avoided. 

Party Wall Award

A Party Wall Award is a legal document that we have touched on briefly above.

The Party Wall Award is ultimately the conclusion of the party wall surveying procedures. 

Upon the signature and service of the Party Wall Award, the party wall surveyor will have fulfilled their statutory duty as set out by Section 10 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

It is then for the building owner to progress their planned construction works, with the Party Wall Award offering the adjoining owner the all important protections that come with the legal document. 

Party Wall Awards will commonly include provisions and clauses along the lines of:

  • Legal recitals confirming names and addresses of owners.
  • Confirmations of when Party Wall Notices were served.
  • Confirmations of party wall surveyors (including the third surveyor).
  • Confirmation of what the planned construction works are.
  • Project drawings (architectural and structural).
  • Contractor method statements (usually setting out more complicated elements of the works).
  • Security provisions (usually in respect of issue or damage).
  • Damage protocols.
  • Working hours.
  • Working days.
  • Clarifications in the event of work amendment or change.

The aim of the Party Wall Award is to ensure that the building owner’s contractor has a document that has been carefully considered by the party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyors, in the hope that they can best understand procedures to reduce the impact of the planned works upon the adjoining owner. 

If indeed you are planning on undertaking excavation work to your property, typically this is going to be a result of the following type of common construction works.

Typical Excavation Works

Any new extension whether that be front, side or rear is going to require Building Regulation sign off.

Building Regulations have become a lot more wiser to the fact that the deeper property foundations are, the less likely there is to be movement to the overall structure as a whole.  Less movement, meaning less subsidence claim, therefore generally being considered as a standard norm for foundations to be deep.

Foundations for even the most straightforward of structures are likely to be a minimum of 1m deep with concrete acting as the foundation, footing or base.

With the vast majority of property stock within England and Wales having been built around the turn of the century or post 1930s, back then it wasn’t common for such forward thinking to be implemented.  Instead, home builders were implementing corbel footings or brick footings.

Corbel footings are an arrangement of bricks usually in a pyramid structure beneath the ground. The bricks themselves are usually only 3 or 4 courses deep and effectively act as the property’s foundation. 

This means that properties are on incredibly shallow foundations and that will often result in movement, subsidence and heave to the overall property, resulting in internal cracking and damage. 

With this in mind, almost any form of new excavation for a modern structure is going to fall within the realm of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. More so if these works are to terraced or semi-detached properties. Obviously the above being in close proximity to neighbouring properties.

If you would like to discuss party wall surveying procedures with our team of experienced and qualified party wall surveyors here at Stokemont, please feel free to get in touch with us today.  We will be more than happy to assist and advise you.

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