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Property Surveying Blog

Written by Bradley Mackenzie

Party Wall Basement

Here at Berry Lodge Surveyors we regularly undertake Party Wall jobs whereby the works being undertaken are Basement excavations or Subterranean rooms.

Unless you regularly deal with the ins and outs of the Party Wall etc Act 1996,  you are unlikely to know what Security For Expenses is and how it can apply to your, or your neighbour’s Party Wall Job.

Formerly covered by Section 12 of the Act, this Section confirms that an adjoining owner may serve a Party Wall Notice upon the building owner, requesting a sum of money be held on account prior to the Notifiable works commencing.

The sum of money know as the ‘security’, is to be held on account in the event that the building owner commences the work and for whatever reason abandons it, doesn’t finish it, or stops it for a prolonged period of time.

The adjoining owner would then use the sum of money to employ their own contractors to complete the works, thereby safeguarding their property from any potential structural damage or movement.

Security for Expenses isn’t applicable to all types of Party Wall jobs and is generally reserved to those jobs that carry significant structural risk.

Some common examples of these are as follows:

  • Basement Conversions
  • Underpinning Work
  • Significant exposure of the Party Wall
  • Demolishing and rebuilding a Party Wall or Party Fence Wall

The Security for Expenses Notice as specified by the Party Wall etc Act 1996, will always be served directly by the adjoining owner, upon on the building owner.

The Notice or Request will only become a dispute under the Act, and therefore a matter for the Party Wall Surveyor or Party Wall Surveyors to deal with if the building owner disputes or refuses the request.

In all normal circumstances the Party Wall Surveyor will advise the adjoining owner of the level of ‘security’ that should be requested.

The security itself will only cover the estimated cost of completing those works required to safeguard the adjoining owner’s property, for example completing the underpinning.

If the building owner does dispute the adjoining owner’s request for security, or disputes the amount requested, it will then be subject to surveyor agreement with the level of the security and the manner in which the security is held becoming a party to the Party Wall Award.

Most commonly the security is held in an escrow account or an impartial solicitor’s client account.

Security for expenses is a complex area of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, the request can see the building owner’s cash flow heavily affected during the works.

Careful consideration needs to be given by the Party Wall Surveyor or surveyors on how to best manage the release of the security.

If you have a Party Wall job where you think Security for Expenses may be applicable call one of our experienced Party Wall Surveyors now on 0207 935 2502 who will happy to assist.