The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides a framework for resolving “disputes” between a building owner (the person doing the construction works) and an adjoining owner (the person who lives next to the building owner).
The Party Wall etc Act 1996, covers three distinct types of works:
- Building a party wall on a shared property boundary, or up to it.
- Any building work and excavation within a 6m proximity to certain buildings or structures.
- Specific works directly to a party wall or shared garden wall.
Here we will clarify the different response options which come into play after an adjoining owner has received a party wall notice”
Party Wall Notice, Response Option 1: Neighbour’s Consent
A neighbour who has been informed of the party wall works that are being carried out, however consents, implies that they give consent to the works proceeding without a party wall surveyor’s input and review.
It must be noted that here at Berry Lodge Surveyors, we advise that a schedule of condition, which is a factual record with writing and photographs of the property, should be prepared for legal and contractual reasons, before commencing any work. This does not only protect the adjoining owner if any damage happens, but the building owner is also protected in the event of inappropriate claims of damage. You can see an example of a schedule of the condition here, we also have a short video which is worth a watch on the topic here!
Party Wall Notice, Response Option 2: Dissent and appoint an Agreed Surveyor
If the adjoining owner “disputes” the works and party wall notice, which essentially means they want to have the input of a party wall surveyor, they do have the option of appointing a singular party wall surveyor to agree a Party Wall Award.
The Party Wall Award is a legal document which states what work is permitted, how and when it will take place, working hours, rights of both parties such as rights to compensation and land access, who will pay for which part and how much.
The surveyor is required by statute to act impartially and through the eyes of the law, has no conflict of interest with both parties as there is no client relationship.
They must undertake an inspection for a schedule of condition for the adjoining owner’s property, then ensure that the work will not have a negative impact by reviewing the proposal. If any change is required, new designs from the architect or engineer and any additional information must be reviewed too. Once the works are completed, the surveyor may return to check if any damage has occurred.
Party Wall Notice, Response Option 3: Dissent and appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor
In this case, the building owner and the adjoining owner will have separate and respective party wall surveyors acting for them.
The two surveyors have the same duties as mentioned in the previous options, and as per option 2, they are both duty-bound to act impartially. However, the building owner is responsible for paying the adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor’s reasonable fees, along with their own.
The logic behind this is the adjoining owner shouldn’t be out of pocket for construction works that do not benefit them. So the obvious disadvantages are that the surveyors’ fees are higher the building owner, and as there will be two surveyors looking at the plans and proposals, the time taken to go through the party wall procedures and eventually serve the Award will increase.
Obviously one of the biggest concerns for a building owner is the potential cost is the adjoining owner’s Surveyors’ fees as they will often be calculated off an hourly rate as opposed to a fixed cost quotation.
It is worth bearing in mind that there is recent case law that can assist a building owner in achieving the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor.
Want to know more? Give us a call now, we are more than happy to discuss your Party Wall Surveying requirements.