Party Wall Matters
Despite its title, The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is not solely concerned with party walls. It regulates the relationship between neighbouring owners in the context of a number of specified types of construction work on, or in close proximity to, the boundary between two adjoining premises. This work will often involve a party wall but in many cases it will not.
Adherence to the Act is a legal requirement on all developers and the process is, essentially, a two-step procedure. The first step involves the building owner (the party undertaking the work) serving Notices on the relevant adjoining owners (the adjacent party) giving details of those aspects of the proposed work which could potentially affect their property. Depending on the project, there can be a number of adjoining owners and therefore more than one Notice. A number of different types of Notice may be required. Once the adjoining owners receive the Notice they then have a choice to either consent or dissent to the work. The Act regulates three types of construction work:
Section 1 of the Act is concerned with new walls built on or astride the line of junction (boundary) such as the flank wall of a rear extension or the construction of a new garden wall.
Section 2 relates to works to existing party walls such as cutting into the party wall to form a loft conversion or underpinning a party wall to for a basement or removing a chimney breast.
Section 6 is utilised when a party wishes to excavate within 3 or 6 metres of an adjoining owner's structure and below the level of the neighbour's foundations.
If the adjoining owner consents, the party wall process effectively stops there. However, we advise that a schedule of condition is taken to record a detailed photographic and descriptive record of the condition of the adjoining properties. Should any damage occur during the construction process both parties will have an agreed record which may then be referred to in case of a dispute.
If the adjoining owner dissents, the second step is taken and in these circumstances the two parties must appoint a surveyor. The two parties can appoint the same surveyor who is known as the 'agreed surveyor'. The agreed surveyor or the two surveyors, if seperate surveyors are appointed, would then agree a resolution to any of the problems which arise. The document setting out the agreement is called a Party Wall Award.
As well as being Chartered Surveyors we are members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS). Please contact us if you require some free informal advice on the Act. We can assist in the serving of Notice or provide advice on what to do if a Notice is served upon you. We act for Building Owners, Adjoining Owners and as Agreed Surveyor.