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Party Wall Specialists
Party Wall Notices
Party Wall Awards

 
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James Lewis BSc (Hons) MRICS | © 2016 James Lewis Surveyors Ltd.| Tel: 01932 820374 / 01932 268260 | Email: info@jlewissurveyors.co.uk
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The Party Wall etc. Act 1996

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 came into force throughout England and Wales on 1 July 1997 and provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes between owners of neighbouring properties in relation to work on or close to a party wall. [download PDF booklet]

The purpose of the Party Wall Act is to ensure that Adjoining Owners do not suffer loss or damage to their property as a direct result of the Building Owner’s actions. The Party Wall Act states that if any damage is caused to an Adjoining Owner’s property, it must be remedied at the expense of the Building Owner.

Party Wall etc Act 1996In order to assist with the identification of any damage that might occur, party wall surveyors will carry out a descriptive and photographic schedule of condition to those parts of an Adjoining Owner’s property, which are at risk from damage, prior to the commencement of building works being undertaken to the Building Owner’s property.

A Schedule of Condition is incorporated within a Party Wall Award, which is a formal document describing in detail the nature and extent of work that is to be carried out by the Building Owner, the working practices that are to be followed and the time period within which the works shall be commenced.

 

The Party Wall etc Act 1996

Party Wall Surveyors are required by statute to act impartially. The Building Owner is required to pay all reasonable costs incurred by the Adjoining Owner in dealing with the matter. This includes the payment of professional fees that become due to the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor.



Party Wall Notices


A Building Owner intending to carry out certain work (see table below) has a strict legal obligation to serve written notice upon any Adjoining Owner who may be affected by the proposed works.

When undertaking work to existing party or party fence walls, a “Party Structure Notice” is appropriate and must be served at least two months prior to such work commencing on site.

If building up to the boundary or carrying out excavation works, a “Line of Junction” or a “Three/Six Metre Notice” respectively, must be served at least one month prior to commencing work on site.

party wall issues


IS NOTICE REQUIRED?

YES
  • Work to existing party walls, such as demolition, re-building, underpinning, cutting into a party wall to support load bearing beams during extensions/loft conversions, reducing or increasing the height of the party wall or inserting a damp proof course etc.
  • Excavating foundations within 6 metres of an Adjoining Owner’s structure and below a 45° line drawn from the bottom of the foundations
  • Work to some boundary walls, known as “party fence walls”
  • New building up to or astride the boundary line
  • Excavations and foundations within 3 metres and to a greater depth than the foundations of an Adjoining Owner’s property.



 

NO

  • Insertion of rawl plugs
  • Screw fixing wall units and shelving
  • Re-plastering
  • Inserting or renewing electrical sockets.


WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT SERVE A NOTICE?

The service of a Notice is a legal requirement and failure to do so can lead to expensive delays and legal costs if the Adjoining Owners seek to stop your work through a Court Injunction or other legal remedy.

WHO SHOULD SERVE THE NOTICES?

There is nothing contained in the Act to prevent a Building Owner from serving a Notice, but any error contained in the Notice can render it invalid. Therefore to avoid unnecessary delays and costs, Building Owners and Adjoining Owners should seek advice from a Chartered Surveyor experienced in dealing with party wall matters.

DO I STILL NEED TO SERVE NOTICE IF I HAVE
PLANNING AND BUILDING REGULATION APPROVAL?

Yes. Such statutory approvals do not negate the requirements imposed on a Building Owner under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

WHAT DO I DO IF I RECEIVE A NOTICE?

If you are an Adjoining Owner and you receive a notice under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, you will have 14 days to carefully consider how to safeguard your interests. If you do not respond or appoint a surveyor within this time period a further 10 day notice will be served, requesting that you do. The following three options are available to an Adjoining Owner upon receipt of a Notice:

Consent to the Notice: If an Adjoining Owner is satisfied that there will be no damage or consequences to his/her property, then he/she may consent to the Notice and the Building Owner will be able to proceed with his/her proposed work without an Award being necessary. 

Dissent to the Notice and appoint your own surveyor: The Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor will liaise with the Building Owner’s Surveyor and will prepare an award authorising the proposed works.

Dissent to the Notice and concur in the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor: If the Adjoining Owner is happy for a single surveyor to represent both parties’ interests, then he/she will act impartially to draw up an Award.



APPOINTMENT OF SURVEYORS

If an Adjoining Owner dissents to the proposed works in writing, the preferred solution would be to appoint one surveyor (Agreed Surveyor) to draw up a Party Wall Award. This surveyor should ideally be a Chartered Surveyor experienced in party wall matters, must be independent and must not be involved in the design or specification of the works.

If the Adjoining and Building Owners cannot agree upon an Agreed Surveyor, then each side should appoint their own surveyor.



Cracks in brick wallAM I PROTECTED AGAINST DAMAGE IF I CONSENT TO THE PROPOSED WORKS?

If an Adjoining Owner gives consent to works contained in a Notice, a Building Owner may proceed with his/her work forthwith. In consenting, although an Adjoining Owner would lose the benefit of having an award authorising the notifiable works, he/she is entitled to appoint a Surveyor, under Section 10 of the Act, to resolve a dispute in the event that any damage arises at a later date as a direct result of notifiable works. Adjoining Owners still retain their common law protection and rights, but attempting to recover damage through such a procedure can be costly and time consuming.

Excavating a trench

 


Party Wall Awards


WHAT IS AN AWARD?

An Award is a legal binding document authorising the execution of building work pursuant to the Act, whilst at the same time safeguards Adjoining Owners’ property by:

1. Ensuring that all reasonable and necessary measures are
taken to protect their property from foreseeable damage.

2. Preventing unnecessary inconvenience.

3. Being compensated for any loss or damage
caused by notifiable works.


IS DAMAGE LIKELY TO OCCUR?

There is always a potential risk that excavations will undermine the foundations of neighbouring buildings or that the insertion of steel beams into party walls may cause structural damage. Each case must be evaluated on its own individual merits and the Award sets out necessary measures to protect an Adjoining Owner’s property.  

In most cases the surveyor(s) will examine the proposed plans, check engineer’s calculations, make an initial assessment of the likely impact of the works and in some instances, request soil investigation reports.

An Award would normally include a schedule of condition of the Adjoining Owner's property, which is recorded prior to work commencing on site, and acts as a benchmark for determining whether any damage arises. It also provides reassurance to the Building Owner, insofar as eliminating potential spurious allegation claims of damage by an Adjoining Owner.




crack in wall

Party Wall damage



COSTS AND EXPENSES?

Costs incurred by an Adjoining Owner in appointing a surveyor to produce an award, are in most normal circumstances, the responsibility of a Building Owner undertaking the works. Ultimately it is the appointed surveyors that determine the responsibility and reasonableness of the adjoining owner’s costs, which may be awarded proportionately if the work being undertaken is to the benefit of both parties.

HOW MUCH DO SURVEYORS CHARGE?

Fees for party wall surveyors are extremely diverse. They can vary from between £750.00 plus VAT to £1,500.00 plus VAT for a typical Award. Most surveyors will quote an hourly rate until such time they have seen the proposals and have established the parameters involved.

We specialise in party wall work and we have very efficient systems in place, which enable us to offer fees that are normally below those of our competitors.

ACCESS RIGHTS

The Act allows access to Adjoining Owners land by Building Owners where reasonably required to facilitate the proposed works that are considered to be pursuant to the Act.

CAN THE ACT BE USED TO RESOLVE
A BOUNDARY DISPUTE?

No, but in many cases the Act will prevent disputes arising
in the first place. 

WHAT DO I DO IF MY NEIGHBOUR IS ABOUT TO START WORK AND I HAVEN’T YET RECEIVED A NOTICE?

Party wall workWe would encourage Building Owners to at the very least openly discuss their proposals with their neighbours. Sometimes Building Owners are not aware of the Acts’ existence and therefore face to face discussions between both parties, from an early stage, can often prevent potential disputes at a later date.

If work does in fact proceed without any formal notification being received, an Adjoining Owner does have the right to apply to the court for an injunction to be served. This has the effect of ceasing work forthwith. This action is only recommended as a last case resort, as it can cost both owners thousands of pounds. It is therefore important that the procedures of the Act are correctly adhered to.   

WHAT ELSE DOES THE ACT COVER?

The Act comprises twenty two sections, which are very detailed. This site is intended to provide you with a brief guidance into the Act and is not an authoritative interpretation of the law. We offer free specialist advice regarding all party wall matters and we would be happy to discuss or answer any questions or queries that you may have.

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