In this week’s Property Surveying blog post, we are going to be discussing party wall surveying procedures. This blog post will take a look at a typical question that our party wall surveyors find themselves asked here not on a daily basis, but certainly on a weekly basis.
Party Wall Agreement
A Party Wall Agreement is the definitive legal document which is prepared by party wall surveyors. The Party Wall Agreement, can also commonly be referred to as a Party Wall Award.
For the avoidance of any doubt and to clarify any confusion that may exist, a Party Wall Agreement and a Party Wall Award are one and the same.
The Party Wall Agreement itself will be served upon the respective owners, building owner and adjoining owner, upon completion of the party wall surveyor’s role and input in respect of the party wall matter.
The Party Wall Agreement itself is the document and vessel that formally resolves the party wall dispute that would have arisen and occurred in respect of the adjoining owner’s Party Wall Notice response.
The party wall dispute, arises when the building owner serves a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner. The adjoining owner in receipt of that Party Wall Notice will select the option whereby they dissent.
In dissenting to the Party Wall Notice, the Act sets out the formality and procedure for which a building owner will ultimately be able to progress their planned construction works.
The planned construction works that fall within the realm of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, will need to be regularised by way of the Party Wall Agreement.
The Party Wall Agreement is therefore the all important conclusion of the party wall surveying procedures, can be prepared by the following;
- Building owner’s party wall surveyor.
- Adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor.
- Agreed party wall surveyor.
- Third party wall surveyor.
Who Pays for a Party Wall Agreement?
Under the conventions of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, it is for the party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyors to determine and apportion who is responsible for the party wall surveying fees in agreeing the Party Wall Agreement.
However, it should be worth noting, that conventionally and certainly in the majority of cases that we handle here at Stokemont, it is the building owner who is responsible for the party wall surveying agreement cost.
This cost will be made up by the party wall surveyor’s fees.
Those fees including and covering the following activities:
- Information review, commonly reviewing Party Wall Notices, drawings and contract of method statements.
- Visiting the adjoining owner’s property prior to the building owner’s construction works commencing to complete a Schedule of Condition report.
- Communicating with the building owner, adjoining owner, party wall surveyor, or third surveyor.
- Preparing, drafting and agreeing the Party Wall Award (Party Wall Agreement).
- Serving the Party Wall Agreement upon the respective owner (recipient).
- Undertaking a post work check off Schedule of Condition report.
How Long Does a Party Wall Agreement Take to Obtain?
The definitive outcome and answer to this question will very much depend upon the works that are taking place to the building owner’s property, while also taking into account the response time to which an adjoining owner replies to the Party Wall Notice.
Finally, the timings will very much be dictated and driven by the quality of information that the building owners have to hand in respect of their planned construction works.
Generally speaking, the clearer the pack of information the party wall surveyor (or party wall surveyors) have to work with, the more time effective the Party Wall Agreement will be.
Can I Review The Party Wall Agreement?
Again, another typical question we find ourselves asked here at Stokemont.
It is fair and reasonable for owners to expect to be given the opportunity to review the Party Wall Award prior to its service.
However, while this is a reasonable expectation, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 does not allow this.
Instead, the owners are required to appoint party wall surveyors under statute to administer the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
In administering the Act, party wall surveyors must do so with due diligence and expertise.
The definition of a party wall surveyor as per the Act is as follows:
“surveyor” means any person not being a party to the matter appointed or selected under section 10 to determine disputes in accordance with the procedures set out in this Act.
The Act also goes on to further confirm the respective owners will have the right of appeal to a Party Wall Agreement upon its receipt.
This is 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.
In layman’s terms, this means that building owner and adjoining owner alike will have the opportunity to appeal the Party Wall Agreement should they believe it to be improperly prepared, unfit for purpose, or contain some form of invalidity or error.
This effectively means that owners are not given the right to review or comment on Party Wall Awards prior to their agreement and service.
Generally speaking, from a common sense perspective, if an owner was given the opportunity to review a Party Wall Award, with that review taking place prior to its service, it would be very easy for an owner who doesn’t necessarily want the works to go ahead, or alternatively is against the idea of an Award being agreed, to raise issue thereby thwarting or stopping the Award’s agreement.
Party wall surveying procedures are naturally going to be a point of confusion for building owners and adjoining owners alike.
Here at Stokemont, we take great pride in assisting and clarifying property surveying matters.
One of these clarifications comes by way of fully informing our appointing owners of what they can expect to be included within a Party Wall Award prior to its service.
If you would like to discuss party wall surveying procedures with our team of experienced and qualified party wall surveyors, please feel free to give us a call today, or perhaps pop us an email, we will be more than happy to assist and advise.