Party wall surveying procedures are one of the most typical surveying services that we provide here at Stokemont.
In today’s Property Surveying blog post, we are going to be taking an in-depth dive and look at Party Wall Awards.
Party Wall Agreement vs Party Wall Award
One of the most common misunderstandings within the general public is that a Party Wall Award and Party Wall Agreement are different.
In fact, it is actually simply two different referrals to the same document.
What is a Party Wall Award?
A Party Wall Award is the conclusive document or contract that will be agreed by a party wall surveyor. Alternatively, agreed by two party wall surveyors.
The Party Wall Award gives the building owner the legal right to progress their planned construction works.
It also gives the adjoining owner the all important legal protection that the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 allows for and provides them with.
What Content is in a Party Wall Award?
The Party Wall Award itself is ultimately there to regularise the building owner’s planned construction works.
In doing this, various different protective clauses will be added to the Award.
The aim being that the contractor completing the party wall element of the construction work implements the most risk adverse approach to construction work completion.
The premise and logic behind this is that the more careful the approach to the works that fall under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the less likely damage is to occur to an adjoining owner’s property.
What happens if I don’t agree with the Party Wall Award?
This is a relatively common question, it is important to note that the Party Wall Award is a legal document.
In practice, this means that the party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyors who agree it will need to do so without input from their respective appointing owners.
In practice, this means that the adjoining owner and building owner will not have sight of the Party Wall Award prior to its service on them.
This can ultimately lead to scenarios whereby owners do not agree, or are not happy with the content of the Party Wall Award.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 has indeed taken this into account and therefore gives building owners and adjoining owners alike the legal right to appeal Party Wall Awards.
Party Wall Award appeal is dealt with under Section 10(17) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 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.
Ultimately, the conclusion of this wording, sets out a framework whereby owners have a legal point of call to dispute Party Wall Award content.
Coming back to the title of this blog post and who pays for a Party Wall Award.
In all normal circumstances, it will be the building owner who pays for the fees and costs associated with the drafting, agreement and service of the Party Wall Award.
The logic behind this, is that it is ultimately the building owner who is going to gain the benefit of being able to complete the planned construction works.
It would therefore be unreasonable for an adjoining owner to have to bear any costs associated with the Party Wall etc. Act procedures and protections that it affords them.
However, with that in mind, it is important to note that it is actually for the party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyors, to set out and determine who is responsible for the party wall surveying fees.
Ultimately, this therefore gives surveyors the legal right to apportion costs as they see fit and via the Party Wall Award itself.
In theory, this does mean that party wall surveyors could apportion a degree of cost against an adjoining owner via the Party Wall Award service.
It is worth noting, that this is incredibly rare, and certainly in all the years that we have agreed Party Wall Awards here at Stokemont, we are yet to ever have seen this occur.
Party wall surveying procedures are naturally going to a cause of concern for building owners and adjoining owners alike.
If you have never dealt with party wall surveying procedures before, a lot of the formality and procedure will not only feel archaic, it can often be confusing.
If you would like to discuss party wall surveying matters with our team of experienced and qualified surveyors here at Stokemont, please feel free to give us a call today.
We are more than happy to assist and advise and offer 30 minutes free no strings party wall surveying advice to all enquirers and callers.
We look forward to hearing from you and hopefully assisting with your party wall surveying matter and query.
Thank you for reading this week’s instalment of our Property Surveying blog post, we hope the content was not only easy to follow, however insightful. If you would like to request a topic for our party wall surveying team to cover, please feel free to submit a request via the Property Surveying blog post page on our website.