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Understanding the Party Wall Act’s Procedures

May 9, 2022

Today’s property surveying blogpost topic is going to taking an in depth and thorough at party wall surveying procedures.

Through our weekly property blog, here at Stokemont we aim to look at some of the more complicated and confusing areas of property law.  The aim and intent being that we can fully inform our clients and readers of the most straightforward and simple way to resolve the matter being discussed.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 (‘the Act’) is one of those procedures that can be incredibly complicated and it many cases confusing.

Here at Stokemont we pride ourselves in not only our experience but, also, our expertise within party wall surveying matters.  Our surveyors regularly work on jobs throughout England & Wales and we like to think we are best placed to assist our clients with any party wall issues they may have.

Party wall procedures are in place for almost all construction works to all types of property within England & Wales.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 sets-out that a Building Owner, who is the legal owner undertaking the works. Is legally responsible and has a duty to serve a Party Wall Notice upon the Adjoining Owner, the Adjoining Owner is he neighbouring owner to those works.

The Party Wall Notice first and foremost acts as a notification to the Adjoining Owners, however, importantly is also invokes the procedures as set-out in the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

These procedures will ultimately dictate the manner in which the Building Owner will need to undertake their works, with the overall onus being upon the Adjoining Owner’s property. The aim and intent being that the risk associated with the works is at the lowest possible level it can be.

Party wall surveying procedures, as confirmed, are kicked off when and Party Wall Notice is served.

So what are an Adjoining Owner’s Party Wall Notices responses?

Consent to the Party Wall Notice:

Consenting the Party Wall Notice will effectively mean the Adjoining Owner is waiving or, in legal terms reserving, the protection that the Party Wall etc Act 1996 afford them.

In short, this effectively means they will be giving the Building Owner the legal right to progress the works without any further formalities being followed.

For a Building Owner, this is by far the most cost and time effective option.  First and foremost, they will not need to pay for the input of a Party Wall Surveyors. 

However, they will also not need to pause or delay the proposed start date of the works whilst the party wall surveying procedures are administered.

It is important for an Adjoining Owner to note that, should they select this option, they are not going to get any of the protections that the Party Wall etc Act 1996 affords them, which we will look at next.

Dissenting to the Party Wall Notice:

If an Adjoining Owner dissents to the Party Wall Notice, they are not effectively disputing the works, or even the Building Owner’s proposals. 

They are however effectively raising a legal dispute with the Party Wall etc Act 1996 being the very vessel that resolves that dispute.

The resolution of the dispute will come by way of a Party Wall Surveyor’s input, with the Party Wall Surveyor’s legal duty being to review the works from the perspective of the Adjoining Owner’s property.

The review will be undertaken in a manner that ensures the risks associated with those works are at the lowest possible level.

The procedural aspect that comes into play in this regard is as follows:

Party Wall Surveyor Review

This will effectively be the Party Wall Surveyor reviewing the Building Owner’s works from the perspective of the Adjoining Owner’s property.

They will be looking at the short-term risk that can come with the construction work itself.

The long-term risks that can come with the structural loading to the party wall, or structural change to the ground itself.

They will also be carefully implementing procedures that can best protect the Adjoining Owner and reduce those risks to the lowest possible level.

Schedule of Condition Reports

The Party Wall Surveyor will also take a schedule of condition report, in advance of the Building Owner’s proposed works commencing.

The schedule of condition report will carefully set-out the condition of the Adjoining Owner’s property in advance of the works commencing.

This condition report then acts as a record of proof, in the event of issue or damage.

Ultimately, the Party Wall Surveyor will refer back to it, in an effort to ensure the condition is reviewed, thereby ensuring it has not worsened as a result of the works.

Party Wall Award/Agreement

A Party Wall Award, which is also very frequently and commonly within the general public referred to as a party wall agreement, is the legal document as set-out by Party Wall etc Act 1996.

The Party Wall Award will effectively conclude the party wall procedures, importantly giving the Building Owner the legal right to progress their proposed works.

The Award will also legally protect the Adjoining Owner in the event of any issue or damage, whilst also ensuring they are protected against future cost in that regard.

Party wall surveying procedures will have the same route to resolution in each and every case, however, the journey to get to that resolution can often be a bumpy ride at the best of times.

If you would like to discuss your party wall surveying requirements with our team of surveyors, give us a call today and we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.

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