The party wall process condensed

As the weather takes a turn for the better building owners will be keen to progress with building work that has been through the design cycle, conceived of an idea months if not years prior. 

Having grappled to procure a suitable contractor, vaulting the planning process and hurdling building control, you're on the home straight and the need to comply with the Party Wall etc Act 1996 (the Act) is all stands between you and the finish line (well sort of, if you don't include the building work itself!).

As dedicated party wall practitioners we have decided to write a article to clear up many of the misconceptions 'owners' bring to our attention in regards to the processes involved with Party Wall. 

ONE:  It is the 'owner' undertaking work(s) responsibility to serve the required party wall notice(s) on their neighbour(s). Click here for more info on notifiable work.

TWO: Notices must be served on neighbours with an interest in the land or property that exceeds a yearly tenancy. In simple terms a neighbouring 'owner' may include a freeholder and a number of  leaseholders'.

THREE: Once notice(s) have been served, the adjoining owners have the option to consent or dissent. If the notice is dissented the 'dispute' resolution mechanism of the Act kicks in. If you have received a party wall notice click here for more info.

FOUR: Each party may appoint a surveyor each or choose to utilise the same surveyor. In any instance the appointed party wall surveyor(s) are duty bound to act impartially under a statutory duty.

FIVE: The party wall surveyor(s) then progress with the formalities of producing the Party Wall Award. This often includes a pre-construction survey known as the 'schedule of condition' at the adjoining owners property most likely to be impacted. 

SIX: It is important to note that whilst the appointed surveyor(s) have been appointed by a respective owner(s) they must commence under a statutory duty pursuant to the parameters of legalisation that is the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. 

SEVEN: Once the Party Wall Award has been served on all owners (assuming the notice period has expired or been waived) subject to clauses contained in the Party Wall Award, building work may commence. The Award containing the rights and obligations of both parties in relation to the notifiable work. 

EIGHT: Normally, the surveyor(s) only become involved again if further disputes arise, for example if one party refuses to abide by the terms of the Award or if damage occurs as a result of building work. 

NINE: Generally, all reasonable professional fee's are borne by the party undertaking and benefiting from the building work. 

TEN: Final thought. The primary purpose of the 1996 Act is to balance the reciprocal rights of a building owner wishing to undertake building work.  On the one hand a building owner is entitled to build and extend their property subject to relevant statutory consents.  And, on the other hand they are obliged to ensure that adequate safeguarding is afforded to those affected by the building work(s). 

Unfortunately we often address enquiries from adjoining owners where building work has commenced without due service of a Party Wall Notice(s) & Award. If the work is at the infancy stage we can often negotiate a suitable resolution. Otherwise, the alternative is time consuming, expensive and stressful... litigation. This is likely to include an application to the Courts for a injunction to halt work and subsequent compensation for damage(s) and trespass, not to mention ruined relations between neighbours.

Evidently the consequences for non-compliance can be disastrous. Luckily, we take the stress and complexities away for you. As dedicated party wall practitioners we endeavour to ensure that all appointments are progressed impartially and efficiently leaving all parties feeling reassured.  Get in touch today to find out  more. 

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EXPERT, EFFICIENT and EFFECTIVE......without the Ego

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