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Peter Hogan FRICS

surveyor.london

Professional Chartered & Party Wall Surveyor

tel 020 7352 5050

Hogan Ltd

Radio 4 InterviewPETER HOGAN FRICS
00:00 / 05:39

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides legislation between the party proposing to carrying out works and, for the neighbours, who are not. 
 

The Act is ‘invoked’ (when certain criteria are satisfied) by the developing party (known as the ‘Building Owner’), complying with the Act and serving a ‘Notice(s)’ to the neighbour(s) (including freeholders, leaseholders and persons with a formal tenancy for >=366 days –  known, in the Act, as the ‘Adjoining Owner(s)’). 

Those in receipt of a Notice, under the Act, have the follow choices ((a) and (b) usually proceed to the formation and service
of an award (a legal document which includes conditions, from the act, in addition to a schedule of condition and design drawings etc)) :-

Within 14 days of service (receipt of the Notice) the “Adjoining owner” can:

(a)    appoint their own surveyor 

(b)    accept the Building Owner`s appointed surveyor as the `Agreed’ surveyor or

(c)    agree (consent) to the works in which case there is no award and no further costs associated with the Party Wall Act

However, if the Notice is wittingly or unwittingly ignored then, after a period of 14 days, a ‘dispute’ is deemed to have arisen and  the “Adjoining owner”, can still:

(a)    appoint their own surveyor 

(b)    accept the Building Owner`s appointed surveyor as the `Agreed’ surveyor or

(c)    agree (consent) to the works in which case there is no award and no further costs associated with the Party Wall Act

That said, the Building Owner`s appointed surveyor may, after the initial period of 14 days, issue a further "10 day notice", under section 10, requesting one of the above responses i.e. (a), (b) or (c). 

In the event that there is no response, then the Building Owner`s surveyor, to progress matters, is obliged to appoint a surveyor, other than themselves, on behalf of the Adjoining Owner

Assuming that the Adjacent Owner has an appointed surveyor (whether an agreed surveyor, or a second surveyor as one of two), it is normal (though not stipulated the Act) for the surveyor, or surveyors to prepare a record of any cracks or defects, to the Adjacent Owner`s property before works commence known as a Schedules of Conditions (as above). 

The "Schedules of Condition" document is incorporated within the award (a legal document which includes conditions, from the act, in addition to a schedule of condition and design drawings etc.)

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, it is normal for the Building Owner to pay the fees for the agreed surveyor or,  pay for both respective surveyors’ fees should an adjoining owner demand their own. 

NOTICES

There are several types of ‘notices’ which may be “served”:
 

  • 3 Metre or 6 Metre Notice – This relates to works within a certain distance of the neighbours structure and to a certain depth. 
     

  • Party Structure Notice – e.g. where support onto the party wall is needed to form a roof extension, noting that a Party Structure Notice may also be served relating to certain works to the floor separating two apartments. It is also required when underpinning a party wall is proposed.
     

  • ‘Line of Junction Notice’ – This is for works to be carried out up to or on the legal junction (boundary line) between respective neighbours (note if this were to be a wall then the foundations, which tend to be wider than the wall, can lawfully reach beyond the line of junction i.e. be formed on the neighbours’ land). 

While the Act does not describe Party Wall Surveyors as arbitrators it is generally accepted as an approach noting that once appointed, under the Act, respective surveyors refer to their appointing party as their ‘appointing owner’, given that the role is statutory, under the Act, iethey are obliged to comply with the Act, not necessarily the opposing wishes of their ‘appointing owners’!

The award, which is subsequently, signed and served, by the agreed surveyor or two respective surveyors, includes a 14-day period for either party to challenge the award, through the courts, but it is reasonable for works to commence upon service of the award. 

AWARD ATTRIBUTES

The key attributes, within the award are:-

  • It creates a formal environment under which the works will be  carried out (they can be commenced within a year of the signature of the award) and disruption minimised.
     

  • The adjoining owner can be provided with the contractor`s insurance details 
     

  • The contractor is provided with a copy of the award
     

  • Include a Schedules of Condition (a photographic and descriptive record of the adjoining owners property adjacent to the proposed works)
     

  • Provides details of designs, design drawings etc (and record drawings of completion – if required) and governs amendments to the design (eg by way of an addendum award)
     

  • Provides a mechanism for further awards to be served for any changes etc
     

  • Provides a mechanism to resolve disputes (a third surveyor is named within the award to arbitrate if a dispute between the two surveyors or owners arises)
     

  • Allows an independent structural engineer to be appointed, if deemed necessary, at the cost of the building owner
     

  • Conditions the builder to carry out work in a safe, work-like manner in accordance with council working hours and for the contractor to work within the limits of their site providing suitable protection for debris and dust etc
     

  • Allows the distribution and agreement of method statements for works
     

  • Can determine compensation e.g. for ‘Enclosing’
     

  • Allows provision for reasonable access  where necessary for the works to be carried out by the building owners’ contractor on the adjoining owners’ land
     

  • Allows access for the adjacent owners’ surveyor to visit the site
     

  • Requires the works to be carried out to comply with town planning and building regulations
     

  • Provides inspection as required at the end of the construction period