The person who wishes to initiate any work on their side of a wall is described as the building owner. The owner(s) on the other side is an adjoining owner. It is typical for the adjoining owner to only become aware of their neighbour’s proposed works when a party wall notice is posted through their letterbox. On receiving the notice, an adjoining owner can either consent or dissent to the notice – if no response is made within 14 days the adjoining owner is deemed to have dissented and the parties are ‘in dispute’ under the Act. Where a dispute arises each owner must appoint a surveyor so that a party wall award can be agreed and served. Once appointed, the two surveyors select a Third Surveyor who may be called upon to settle any issue that they cannot agree. It is rare for the Third Surveyor to be called on. A party wall award is a legally binding document that sets out important information including; who the parties are, details of the proposed work and what safeguards have been agreed to ensure that those works are undertaken with the minimum of risk and without causing unnecessary inconvenience to the adjoining owner.
Typical examples of matters that might be addressed in a party wall award include:
- Working hours
- The control of dust and excessive noise
- Measures to limit vibration
- Access to the adjoining owner’s land
One of the most important components of the party wall award is the schedule of condition which is amended to the award. This document will often include a photographic schedule and description of the parts of the adjoining owner’s property that are considered to be at risk from the works. The Award will also include copies of all relevant drawings and any method statements as necessary. At the end of the works the surveyor acting for the adjoining owner will usually make a further visit to re-check the schedule of condition and hopefully confirm that no damage has been caused.
it is important to note that the surveyors do not have any control over planning issues such as the size and appearance of a proposed extension or potential loss of light; these must all be addressed through the planning process.
In all normal circumstances the building owner (the party undertaking the works) will be responsible for the fees of both their own surveyor and the adjoining owner’s surveyor. The surveyor acting for the adjoining owner keeps a record of their time and when all other matters have been resolved puts their fee forward to the building owner’s surveyor for agreement. If the two surveyors fail to agree upon what constitutes a reasonable fee they can refer the matter to the Third Surveyor who will have the final say.
The Act allows for the same surveyor to be appointed by both the building owner and the adjoining owner (known as the ‘agreed surveyor’) but often adjoining owners will prefer to appoint a surveyor that they have chosen.
If you have recently received a notice and would like some advice on how you can best protect your property, please do not hesitate to contact us today.