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What are Party Wall Notices & Awards?

Sep 19, 2022

Thank you for clicking on today’s property surveying blog. In this instalment of our advisory property surveying blog post we are going to be taking a in-depth look at the Party Wall Surveying procedures and how the party wall procedures are governed by The Party Wall etc Act 1996.

The act as is known professionally ensures that there is a framework and protocol in place for certain types of construction works that a building owner intends to undertake to their property.

The Act’s framework is in place to ensure that there is proper procedure followed during the course of planned works, or alternately ensuring that there is sufficient degree of protection in place for an adjoining owner.

Party Wall Notice

Party Wall Notices formally invoke The Party Wall etc act 1996 upon an adjoining owner, thereby giving them the legal right to respond in a manner of their choosing.

A Party Wall Notice is the document or letter that commences the Party Wall Surveying procedures.

Upon receipt of a Party Wall Notice, the adjoining owner will have three specific

Party Wall Response Notice Options

Party Wall Notice Response Option 1, Consenting to the Party Wall Notice

The first option that the adjoining owner has to them is to consent to the Party Wall Notice.

A party will notice consent will effectively mean that the adjoining owner has considered the works and the perspective of their property, ultimately deciding that they are happy for them to proceed without any legal formality being adhered to.

Consenting to the Party Wall Notice will mean that the building owner has been given the all clear to progress with their planned works.

From a legal perspective, the building owner will be free to progress their works in the most time and cost effective manner possible.

Party Wall Notice Response Option 2, Dissenting to the Party Wall Notice and Appointing their own Party Wall Surveyor

The second Party Wall Notice response option that an adjoining owner has at their disposal is to dissent to the Party Wall Notice and appoint a Party Wall Surveyor of their choosing.

Once they appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor, the role of that surveyor is going to be to review the works from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property.

This review is going to ensure the Party Wall Surveyor is not only fully accommodated with the works and proposals. However, they are also able to put in place protocols and procedures to reduce the impact of the Party Wall works and increase the protections that the Act affords an adjoining owner.

Party Wall Notice Response Option 3, dissenting to the party wall notice and appointing an agreed surveyor

The final and third option that an adjoining owner has at their disposal upon receipt of a Party Wall Notice is to dissent and appoint an Agreed Surveyor.

Much like appointing their own Party Wall Surveyor, the Agreed Party Wall Surveyor will go through the same procedures and protocols. Albeit, in this case they will act jointly on behalf of the building owner and the adjoining owner.

A typical and conventional question both building owner’s and adjoining owner’s alike will ask, is whether the Agreed Party Wall Surveyor can act impartially.

It is a fair point, our take on it here at Stokemont is that as the Party Wall Surveyor is very much bound by the wording of the Act, they will be administering that in any event. This effectively means that they will be restricted from showing any bias to either owner, (the building owner, or the adjoining owner) and instead will simply follow the letter of the law.

Party Wall Surveying Procedures

Irrespective of whether the Party Wall Surveyor takes on an Agreed Party Wall Surveyor role or acts on behalf of one of the respective owners. They are going to follow set procedures to arrive at a agreement of a Party Wall Award.

We are now going to take a brief look at these procedures in more detail.

Schedule of Condition Reports

Part of the Party Wall Surveyor’s role and efforts to reduce the risk to the adjoining owner’s property will be to complete a Schedule of Condition Report.

A Schedule of Condition Report will significantly protect an adjoining owner and building owner alike, as it will ensure that there is a record and benchmark in place of the condition of the adjoining owner’s property pre construction work.

This means that should there be any allegations, or claim of damage during the course of the works, it will be very straightforward and simple for the adjoining owner to confirm whether that damage is new. Or, alternatively confirm whether it was in situ prior to the works commencing.

Schedule of Condition Reports will see a Party Wall Surveyor go throughout the property, both internally and externally documenting and recording a thorough condition record.

The condition survey will often be accompanied by multiple photographs, usually in the hundreds, thereby also providing a high definition record of proof.

Party Wall Award

The conclusion of the Party Wall Surveying procedures is the agreement of a Party Wall Award.

The Party Wall Award, is also commonly referred to as the Party Wall Agreement.

It is also worth noting that the two are the same, and generally speaking they are to accept referrals for the document as set out.

The Party Wall Award itself is not only going to regularise the planned works, it is going to give the building owner the legal right to progress the works without any further delays.

Importantly for an adjoining owner, it is equally going to give them the legal right to claim in case of any issue or damage that have been caused by the works.

The Party Wall Award itself is the most favourable vessel above and beyond common law and while it gives the adjoining owner protection against damage it also significantly protects them against cost.

Under common law, convention is that if an adjoining owner has a damage issue that the building owner disputes. They will need to stump up the professional fees themselves to have the matter investigated and determined.

This is not the case with the Party Wall Award and the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

In the event that there was any issue or damage it would be the Party Wall Surveyor’s role and duty to resolve the dispute in a cost and time effective manner.

Party Wall Notices and Party Wall Awards are one of the most typical services that we provide here at Stokemont, often serving handfuls of Party Wall Notices day in and day out and agreeing multiple Party Wall Awards.

If you would like to discuss Party Wall Procedures with our RICS Building Surveyors and Party Wall Surveyors, please feel free to give us a call or pop us an email. We will be happy to assist and advise you.

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