In this week’s Property Surveying blog post topic, we are going to be looking at party wall surveying procedures and in particular Party Wall Notices.
A Party Wall Notice is a legal requirement as per the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and needs to be served upon the adjoining owner, whom is the neighbour affected by the proposed works, a minimum one month in advance of the building owner, who is the owner undertaking the works, works commencing.
The Party Wall Notice is designed to notify the adjoining owner, and importantly give them the three legal Party Wall Notice responses for their consideration.
One of the most typical questions that we are asked here at Stokemont, is what is a Party Wall Notice dissent.
A Party Wall Notice dissent means that the adjoining owner is effectively dissenting to the Party Wall Notice that has been served upon them. However, the phrase dissent doesn’t necessarily mean that the adjoining owner is unhappy or unwilling to allow the work to proceed, it simply means that they are not consenting to the Party Wall Notice, and thereby want the full protections that the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affords upon them.
Dissent can often feel like an overly formal word, or unreflective of the adjoining owner’s overall feelings of the work, and therefore any building owner reading this, or confused about the phraseology dissent in the adjoining owner’s Party Wall Notice response should always take this into mind.
Dissent is the legal phraseology that the Act uses, and in effect means that there is a legal dispute between both the building owner and adjoining owner.
Through the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, it is therefore a party wall surveyor’s role to resolve that dispute, and the party wall surveyor will do so by administering the procedures as set out by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
These procedures can include, however are not limited to;
Surveyor will ensure that an experienced and qualified party wall surveyor reviews the proposed works from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property, ensuring that the works pose the least amount of risk both short term and long term as possible.
The Undertaking of a Schedule of Condition Report
The party wall surveyor will undertake a pre-works condition schedule of condition report of the adjoining owner’s property.
This will ensure that the surveyor is fully aware of the condition of the property so that if there is a later claim for damage or defect, it will be a very easy task for the party wall surveyor to determine and then deal with appropriately.
Introduction of any Temporary Protection Method Statements
The party wall surveyor’s duty will also extend to agreeing a Party Wall Award which governs the specifics of the works and ultimately specifics of the construction works, and ultimately ensures that appropriate protection method statements are in place covering those works.
Typical protection statements could include the requirement for the building owner’s contractor to use hand tools on site.
It could require foundations to be dug or filled in specific ways or under specific timings or, it could also cover the working hours for which the construction works take place.
The Agreement of a Party Wall Award
The party wall surveyor’s role will also importantly include the agreement of a Party Wall Award. A Party Wall Award is in place to legally protect both the building owner and the adjoining owner in the event of issue, and ultimately concludes the party wall surveying procedures up until that time.
Once a Party Wall Award has been agreed, the party wall surveyor’s role has been fulfilled and he or she has effectively regularised the works that the building owner is planning on undertaking, while also ensuring that the adjoining owner has the full protection and benefit that the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affords them.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that a party wall surveyor’s role is complete at this stage, as should there be a further issue such as damage or dispute further down the line, then it again will fall on the party wall surveyor under the statutory duty the Act bestows on them to again step in and resolve that specific dispute.
Party Wall Notices can take many shapes and forms, from those served by owners, those served by architects, those served by contractors, and mostly commonly those served by party wall surveyors.
If you need to serve a Party Wall Notice, we would always advise seeking professional input at this junction, as ultimately it is worth noting that it is a legal notification and the adjoining owner does have the legal right to dissent to that notification, therefore approaching it with the most informed stance can often lead to a much more favourable Party Wall Notice response and outcome. Likewise, if you have been served a Party Wall Notice and are confused about the phraseology or terminology set out within it, we would also advise seeking the advice of an experienced and qualified party wall surveyor to ultimately ensure that your interests are best protected and your property is well considered.
If you would like to discuss any of the party wall procedures with our team of qualified and experienced party wall surveyors here at Stokemont, give us a call today and we will be more than happy to assist you.