Damage caused by notifiable works under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, to a neighbour’s (adjoining owner) property is referred to as party wall damage and in most cases, the onus lies upon the building owner to make good or compensate for damage.
It should be noted that the right to compensation is extended to adjoining occupiers, meaning that those who are not actually allowed to participate in the dispute resolution procedure but may nevertheless suffer loss or damage (such as tenants or other residents) are entitled to compensation.
“Section 7(2) of the PWA 1996 envisages that compensation may be payable to the adjoining owner “for any loss or damage which may result… by reason of any work executed in pursuance of this Act.”
If an adjoining owner’s property is damaged as a result of works covered by the Act, the adjoining owner can allow the building owner’s contractor to make good. In that scenario, the two neighbours agree between themselves on arrangements for the damage to be made good, or for financial compensation to be made based on a determination made by the appointed surveyor(s) in accordance with Section 11(8) of the Act.
The adjoining owner can then choose to appoint his own contractor to carry out the works at his convenience.
The building owner’s obligation to make good damage only arises for work carried out under section 2(2)(a), (e), (f), (g), (h) & (j) and sections 2(3)(a), 2(4)(a), 2(5) and 2(6).
For damages caused under section 1(4) & (5), such as to the drains and flowerbeds, the building owner must pay compensation.
Any disputes over the cause or extent of the damage, the cost of making good and amount of compensation payable is within the jurisdiction of the appointed surveyor(s) (Onigbanjo v Pearson  BLR 507 & PWA 1996, s 10) and will generally be confirmed in a further award.
The award will include a timescale within which the payment in lieu must be made. Should a payment that has been confirmed in an award not be made, the parties can take enforcement action in the Magistrate’s Court.
How is the cost of the repair determined?
This topic can often cause friction and conflict between appointing owners; therefore, the determination of such costings are a common practice amongst appointed surveyors.
1. Obtaining comparative quotes from reputable contractors
One of the ways the cost can be determined is to obtain at least three quotes from reputable contractors sourced by the appointed surveyor(s).
A fixed-price quote is an agreed price based on work shown on a drawing, specification or site inspection (and the accompanying terms and conditions). So provided nothing changes, that’s the final sum you’ll pay – but any variations to the specification will attract an ‘extra over’ cost.
Estimates are common through telephone enquiries and photographic evidence via email, where the full extent of work that needs to be done might not be obvious at first glance, and they can vary depending on what happens as the job progresses.
The appointed surveyor(s) then selects the appropriate contractor for the job and arranges to get the sum to the adjoining owner, thereby enabling them to get the damage made good.
2. Utilise industry standard cost guides
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recommends the use of a cost guide to determine repair costs. The Building Cost Information Service of BCIS is the industry-standard cost guide that most surveyors refer to.
Once the cost is determined, the building owner is notified to transfer the amount to the adjoining owner, allowing them to commence with the required repair work.
If you’d like to discuss this topic or any party wall related matter you are very welcome to contact us.