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Party Wall etc. Act 1996 – Part 2

Posted in: Property Services

In Part 1 of our Party Walls Act blogs, we looked at some of the common concerns and misconceptions about the Party Wall Act, when it applies and what it allows.

Having explored the basics, in Part 2 we’re going to look at how to appoint a surveyor, serving a Party Wall Notice, the options that Adjoining Owners have available to them, timescales involved, and finally, the Party Wall Award itself.

Serving Notice

Once it is confirmed that Notice is required under the Act, in order to complete the necessary works it is essential that it is properly served on the relevant parties, known as Adjoining Owners. This will include a correctly written Notice relevant to the works that are intended as well as all relevant supporting information, drawings, specification, etc.

Notice could be served on any number of Adjoining Owners, from a single party to a dozen or more depending on the extent and scale of the intended works and the number of interested parties. Failure to correctly serve the Notice could lead to it being invalid, hence why the services of an expert party wall surveyor should be used.

 Architects drawings

Responding to Notices, Appointments and Timescales

Once valid notice is served on the Adjoining Owner(s) there are various timescales imposed by the Notice depending on what element of the works the Notice relates to.

Any Adjoining Owner can choose to either:

  1. Consent to the works
  2. Dissent and appoint the Building Owner’s Surveyor as Agreed Surveyor
  3. Dissent and appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor

Typically, an Adjoining Owner would respond to a Notice by appointing either the Agreed Surveyor or their own surveyor. This helps to safeguard the Adjoining Owner’s interests and protects their position as far as practicable while the works proceed.

Any Agreed Surveyor is required to act impartially and not to the gain or benefit of either party.  If the Adjoining Owner appoints their own surveyor, this appointment must be specific and include certain information for it to be valid. For this reason, it is essential that a competent surveyor is appointed.

If either Option 2 or 3 is chosen, the Building Owner would typically pay the fees incurred by either the Agreed Surveyor or the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor. This, along with the hourly rate, should be determined at the early stage of an appointment.

Should an adjoining owner fail to respond to the Notice within the 14 day period imposed by the Act, a dispute is deemed to have arisen. Should this occur, a second surveyor will need to be appointed on the adjoining owner’s behalf.

Surveyors looking and pointing at brick wall

Next Steps and Safeguarding the Adjoining Owner’s Interests and Property

Once a surveyor has been appointed, a Schedule of Condition would typically be undertaken to record the condition of the Adjoining Owner’s property/structure prior to the Building Owner’s works proceeding.

Augered pile driver

Any concerns or issues identified in the supporting documentation and drawings would typically be clarified or elements or details of the design/works amended to each of the Surveyor’s satisfaction. This will make sure that all reasonably necessary measures are taken to protect the Adjoining Owner’s property from foreseeable damage, safeguard their security during the works, reduce any unnecessary inconvenience and agree how the Adjoining Owner will be compensated for any loss or damage during the works.

An example of this, relating to a Notice of Adjacent Excavation where piled foundations are required, could be revising the method of piling from impact piles to augered piles. This would reduce vibration and limit the risk of damage to the Adjoining Owner’s property.

Issues such as this would commonly involve input from other members of the Building Owner’s professional advisers, including architects, structural or mechanical engineers.

The Award

Once the works are agreed, the Party Wall Award can be made. Again, this is complex and must contain certain information as stipulated by the Act. An experienced party wall surveyor will know what these are.

The Building Owner can then commence the agreed works on the agreed date/times in the manner agreed in writing in the Award.

Works must start within a certain period of time or a new Party Wall Award will need to be made.

Worker painting a wall

Assuming that all works progress as intended, site visits may be undertaken at relevant times to check on the methods being used and to ensure that no damage is being caused.

The Building Owner would typically be liable for any damage caused to the Adjoining Owner’s property during the works and making good to a standard deemed acceptable by either the Agreed Surveyor or both the Building Owner’s Surveyor and Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor.

Once all works are complete and any settlement of monies owed is resolved, this is usually the end of the matter and both parties can settle back to normality.

If you’d like to find out how the team at TPG can help with any issues relating to the Party Wall Act, get in touch today.

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