The Party Wall Etc Act 1996
The Act covers:
- Alterations to a shared wall
- Excavation work close to neighbouring properties
- The construction of new walls that straddle the boundary
If work falls within the scope of the Act, the Building Owner is required to notify the adjoining owners (neighbours) to gain their consent to the work. In order for the project to run smoothly, a Party Wall Surveyor should be appointed to serve notice on the adjoining owners correctly therefore preventing complications such as hold-ups or even injunctions. When notice is served, the adjoining owners have the option to: consent, dissent to the works or do nothing. If consent is granted, the Notice must be signed. If the adjoining owners dissent or fail to act, a dispute is said to have arisen. In this case, each side must appoint a suitably qualified Surveyor to agree an Award. The Building Owner is responsible for the fees involved.
The Act provides a framework for preventing or resolving disputes in relation to party walls, party structures (i.e. floors between flats), boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. Anyone intending to carry out work (anywhere in England and Wales) of the kinds described must give Adjoining Owners notice of their intentions.
The benefits of appointing a Party Wall Surveyor are numerous: The notices are drafted and served correctly preventing any delays to the project. Relations with your neighbour should remain cordial as there is a degree of separation Queries are handled by the Surveyor(s) aiming to prevent conflict.
If you receive a Notice as an adjoining owner, you have 14 days to respond.
Components of a Party Wall Agreement
It has three primary parts:
The award itself - it sets the guidelines that govern how the processed work will have to progress.
Schedule of Condition - it is on the adjoining property and supported by a set of photographs.
Drawing - it shows all the details of the proposed work.
Below are some other items covered by the “Award” document.
- A brief description of the works proposed
- The time of working (when the working will start and when it will be stopped)
- An assurance regarding the insurance of contractor’s public liability
- The indemnity of the building owners in favour of the adjourning owner
- The access arrangements for the two surveyors
- The time limit for work commencement which is usually 12 months
- The surveyor's fee
Once the document has been agreed and approved, it is published. This is meant to give the go-ahead to start the work.
Please contact us directly for an informal discussion on whether your building project (or your neighbour’s) may have Party Wall implications. We can offer impartial advice.