Property Surveying Blog
In my first blog post, I will be looking at Schedule of Condition Reports, the fundamentals that are included within the Report and the importance of having one undertaken to your, or your neighbour’s property in advance of any construction works taking place.
In order to understand what a Schedule of Condition Report is, we need to understand what the purpose of it is.
There are often scenarios where a homeowner (known as the building owner under the Party Wall etc Act 1996) would like to carry out construction works within their home.
Whether it be a loft extension, rear extension, basement conversion or even structural alterations; when carrying out such works the building owner must be aware of the risks they can cause to their neighbour’s property (known as the adjoining owner’s property under the Party Wall etc Act 1996).
In property types such as terraced and semi-detached houses, the building owner will share a Party Wall with the adjoining owner. Similarly, on a detached property, the building owner will be in close proximity to adjoining owner’s property.
Therefore, if the building owner undertakes construction works to their property that fall within the remit of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, he or she has the legal duty to serve a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner notifying them of these works. For example, Excavation works can interfere with soil movement and possibly the foundations beneath. As a result, there is a risk to the adjoining owner’s property that must be considered pre construction, this is where a Schedule of Condition comes into play!
The Schedule of Condition Report itself outlines descriptive features of the adjoining owner’s property and records the condition in detail. Within the report the full condition of the property will be itemised pre construction, thereby eliminating any wrongful liabilities if a dispute for losses or claims for damage later arises between the building owner and adjoining owner.
Prior to carrying out a Schedule of Condition the building owner needs to serve a Party Wall Notice to the relevant adjoining owners that are likely to be affected by the proposed works.
The adjoining owners who receive these Notices have 3 response options available to them:
Response Option 1, Consenting to the Works
This means they will reserve the protections of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and will essentially allow the building owner to progress the construction works with no further Party Wall Procedures being followed. It is important to remember that an adjoining owner does later have the right to dissent after a consent, however this will have to be upon the existence of some type of dispute, most commonly being damage.
Response Option 2, Dissenting to Works and appointing their own Surveyor
The selection of this option means that the adjoining owner will be dissenting to the Notice and appointing their own independent Party Wall Surveyor to review the construction works from the perspective of their property. The building owner will then also need to appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor, with the two Surveyors going through the Party Wall procedures to agree a Party Wall Award which gives the respective owners legal protection, while also regularising the works.
Response Option 3, Dissenting to Works and agreeing in the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor
An agreed surveyor is when the surveyor acts on behalf of the Building owner and the adjoining owner mutually and impartially. The Surveyor will undertake all of the steps that two respective Surveyors would, the only difference being that there is one Surveyor as opposed to two.
Upon completion of the construction works a check off Schedule of Condition inspection is carried out to the adjoining owner’s property to inspect any damage and issue.
At this stage, it will be quite easy to spot problems as there will be a completed and thorough Schedule of Condition Report in place as well as numerous photographs of the property pre works.
We have a short informative video on Schedule of Condition Reports as well as an example Report available below.
If you would like to discuss how a Schedule of Condition Report could be of benefit to you, or your neighbour, please feel free to get in touch with me directly and I will be happy to advise.