In today’s party wall surveying blog post topic, we are going to be taking a look at party wall surveying procedures.
A Party Wall Agreement which is also commonly referred to as a Party Wall Award, is the legal document that is required should an adjoining owner dissent to a Party Wall Notice served upon them.
To put this into context, a Party Wall Notice is required if the building owner, who is the legal owner who is planning on undertaking works to their property.
The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 requires this owner to formally serve a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner a minimum of 1 or 2 months in advance of their proposed works commencing.
A Party Wall Notice will often be in various different shapes and formats, however commonly will be a letter from the building owner to the adjoining owner, or from the building owner’s party wall surveyor to the adjoining owner.
The Party Wall Notice will set out the building owner’s proposed works, confirming exactly how those works fall within the realm of the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 and importantly, should give the adjoining owner a full understanding of those works.
In response to the Party Wall Notice, the adjoining owner will have three response options:
Consenting to the Party Wall Notice
Consenting to the Party Wall Notice effectively means that the adjoining owner reserves the rights that the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 affords them and ultimately will be enabling the building owner to commence and progress their works without any further formalities being administered or followed.
Dissenting to the Party Wall Notice
If the adjoining owner opts to dissent to the Party Wall Notice, at this stage they are effectively requesting that the procedures as set out by the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 are administered.
These would include a party wall surveyor’s review of the proposed works from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property, ensuring that the risks associated with those works are at the lowest possible level.
It is at this point that we go back to the initial title of this blog post which is the Party Wall Agreement or Party Wall Award.
In response to a Party Wall Notice dissent and to conclude the party wall procedures, a Party Wall Award or Party Wall Agreement will be agreed which effectively governs the building owner’s proposed works and legally safeguards the adjoining owner.
The Party Wall Award will ensure that the works are carefully considered with a number of recitals and clauses being set out within the award which will ultimately give the building owner legal protection in the event of issue or damage.
The Party Wall Award will also govern the various works that the building owner is undertaking and will require the building owner’s contractor to likely undertake the works in a manner that reduces risk to the neighbouring property and structure.
Party Wall Awards or Party Wall Agreements, will also govern the working hours that the building owner’s party wall works can be undertaken. They are also likely to deal with any access allowances and ultimately, if indeed the building owner does gain the right of access onto the adjoining owners land, that will also be set out within the Award.
One of the most common questions we find ourselves asked here at Stokemont, is what are the added protections that a Party Wall Award affords an adjoining owner?
The key element to any Party Wall Award is that the adjoining owner is not only protected against damage resulting from the works, however they are also protected against any cost liability.
Under common or civil law, this is not the case. Effectively, if the adjoining owner was to suffer damage to their property, with the building owner disputing that damage, the building owner would then need to pursue the damage and building owner privately through the court procedures, ultimately having to bear the burden of cost in that regard.
The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 sets out the complete opposite approach to this, and effectively means that so long as the adjoining owner dissents to the Party Wall Notice and a Party Wall Award has been agreed, the building owner would only need to go back to their appointed party wall surveyor to have the matter reviewed and regulated by way of a further Party Wall Award which would deal with any damages or issues resulting from the works.
Party Wall Agreements or Party Wall Awards are in place to ensure that both building owners and adjoining owners gain full protection that the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 affords them.
If you are planning on undertaking works to your property and would like to discuss how our team of qualified and experienced RICS Chartered Surveyors can be of assistance to you, give us a call today and we will be more than happy to help.
Or, if you are an adjoining owner with your neighbour, the building owner shortly undertaking works to their property, give us a call today and we will be more than happy to advise how we can best assist you and review the building owner’s works from the perspective of your property.