Party Wall Surveying Services
What is the Party Wall etc Act 1996?
The Party Wall Agreement process is a legal procedure that needs to be invoked before a building owner (the person undertaking the construction works to their property) commences their proposed work.
The Party Wall Surveying Process
The Party Wall etc Act 1996 covers three different types of work:
- Works directly to a Party Wall, a Party Structure or a Party Fence Wall
- Excavations within 3m or 6m and to a depth lower than the adjoining owner’s (the neighbour’s) foundations
- New walls built up to, or astride, the line of junction
The Party Wall Agreement procedure is in place to ensure that both the building owner and the adjoining owner are legally protected before, during and after the works.
To ensure this, a Party Wall Surveyor will consider the building owner’s construction work from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property.
The Party Wall Surveyor will ensure the potential risk associated with the construction works is as low as it can be, while also ensuring all the logistics of the works have been considered thereby avoiding disputes between the owners.
The Party Wall Agreement process follows a strict statutory procedure which commences when the building owner serves a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner in advance of the construction works commencing.
Once a Party Wall Notice is served the adjoining owner will have three Notice response options open to them:
Typical Party Wall Surveying Questions
Are the construction works covered by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996, covers the majority of common construction works and applies to all types of properties in England and Wales.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies to 3 distinct types of construction works:
Works directly to a Party Wall
This includes exposing, cutting into and away from a Party Wall. Commonly this comes into play if structural changes are taking place internally, of loft conversion is being undertaken or if a chimney breast is being removed.
Excavating within 3m or 6m of an adjoining owner’s property
Providing the proposed excavations are deeper than the Adjoining Owner’s properties foundations, the Party Wall Surveying Procedures will apply. Commonly this comes into play if any form of extension, basement conversion, new wall or rebuild is taking place.
Construction of New Walls
Any new wall built up to, or astride the boundary line will result in Party Wall Surveying Procedures coming into play. Commonly these include new flank walls of extensions and new builds or new boundary walls or garden walls.
Am I an Owner?
Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 there are two types of owners:
The Building Owner owns the property where the construction works are taking place.
The Adjoining Owner owns the property that adjoins our neighbours the Building Owner’s property.
What is a Party Wall Notice?
A Party Wall Notice is a legal document that needs to be served by the Building Owner upon the Adjoining Owner in advance of the construction works commencing.
The Party Wall Notice invokes the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and gives the Adjoining Owner the right to consider and respond to the Party Wall Notice with the following options:
Consenting to the Party Wall Notice:
This response option means that the Adjoining Owner reserves the protections the Party Wall etc Act 1996 affords them and the Building Owner’s construction works can proceed without the formalities of the Party Wall Surveying Procedures being followed.
Dissenting to the Party Wall Notice and appointing their own Party Wall Surveyor:
This response means that the Adjoining Owner appoints a Party Wall Surveyor to protect their interest and property and administer the Party Wall Surveying Procedures. This will include a Surveyor reviewing the Building Owner’s construction works from the perspective of the Adjoining Owner’s property and agreeing a Party Wall Award.
Dissenting to the Party Wall Notice and appointing an Agreed Party Wall Surveyor:
This response means that the Adjoining Owner and Building Owner appoint the same Party Wall Surveyor. The Surveyor will then act impartially upon both respective owners administering the Party Wall Surveying Procedures and agreeing a Party Wall Award.
What is a Party Wall Surveyor?
A Party Wall Surveyor will administer the Party Wall Surveying Procedures on behalf of their appointing owner who can be the Building Owner or Adjoining Owner.
The Party Wall Surveyor’s role is to consider the Building Owner’s work from the perspective of the Adjoining Owner’s property and ensure that it is fully protected from the proposed construction works.
As part of these procedures, the Party Wall Surveyor will prepare a Schedule of Condition Report and agree a Party Wall Award.
What is a Schedule of Condition Report?
A Schedule of Condition Report is a thorough photographic and written record of the Adjoining Owner’s property undertaken in advance of the Building Owner’s proposed construction works commencing.
The Schedule of Condition Report will focus on all of those areas of the Adjoining Owner’s property that may be affected by the Building Owner’s proposed construction works to ensure there is a thorough record in place pre works.
Commonly Schedule of Condition Reports will include both internal and external areas of the property.
In the event of a damage claim, the Schedule of Condition Report becomes pivotal in confirming if the damage is new and a result of the Building Owner’s construction works.
What is a Party Wall Award?
A Party Wall Award is a legal document that is drafted and agreed by an Agreed Party Wall Surveyor or the two respective Party Wall Surveyors.
The Party Wall Award is served upon conclusion of the Party Wall Surveying Procedures and gives the Building Owner the legal right to commence the construction works covered by the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
The Party Wall Award will include various different clauses governing the construction works ensuring that the risks to the Adjoining Owner’s property are as low as they can be.
Who pays for the Party Wall Surveyor?
As it is the Building Owner who is benefitting from the construction works and the Adjoining Owner who is being affected by the works. In all normal circumstances, it will be the Building Owner who pays the Agreed Party Wall Surveyor’s, or the respective Party Wall Surveyors’ fees.
There are scenarios within the Party Wall etc Act 1996 whereby the Party Wall Surveyor’s costs can be shared, however, this is very rare and tends to be when the Party Wall or Party Fence Wall (a Garden Wall) are in disrepair.
How much does it cost?
The Party Wall Surveying costs and Surveyor’s fees will very much depend on the types of construction works that are taking place and the types of property the work is being undertaken on.
Here at Berry Lodge Surveyors, all of our Building Owner Party Wall Surveyor and Agreed Party Wall Surveyor jobs are competitively priced and at a fixed cost.
If you would like to find out a little more about our costs, please get in touch and we will be happy to advise.
How long does the Party Wall Process take?
The Party Wall Surveying Procedures and timings can vary depending upon a number of different variables including:
- The proposed construction works
- The Party Wall Surveyor or Surveyors handling the file
- The Party Wall Notice Response timings
- The speed at which the Schedule of Condition Report can be undertaken
- The agreement of the Party Wall Award
As a timing guide, we would advise budgeting in the region of 1 – 3 months from the point at which the Party Wall Notices are served upon the Adjoining Owner.
What happens if the Party Wall Procedures aren’t activated?
If the construction works commence without Party Wall Notices being served, the Adjoining Owner may be able to obtain a Party Wall Injunction which will legally stop construction works on site until the necessary Party Wall Surveying procedures have been followed.
It is important to bear in mind that the Party Wall Surveying procedures are a legal requirement and therefore the Building Owner should ensure they are adhered to.