Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the Act?
In a nutshell, it is to enable works to proceed and progress in a proper manner, easing potential problems for both parties and instilling a sense of fairness all round, whilst ensuring that inconvenience to the Adjoining Owner is kept to reasonable levels.
If the Act is used properly, it should mitigate the need to seek legal redress through the courts in the event that something goes wrong.
What is a Party Wall?
Put simply, a Party Wall divides two properties in separate ownership. A Party Wall may be built astride the boundary, and be in the joint ownership of two or more neighbours; or it may be built solely on the land of one owner but provides a boundary between them.
It is worth being aware that the ‘etc’ element of the Act deals not only with horizontal structures (such as separating floors) but also excavations within 3 or 6m of a neighbour's existing structure, which may not, necessarily be a party wall.
What is a Party Wall Notice?
Certain works, which are considered likely to affect the neighbouring party wall or structure, are deemed to be 'notifiable' under the Act. In this instance, the Building Owner is required to serve notice upon the adjoining owner(s) prior to commencing works on site. Minimum periods of notice need be given depending upon the Section(s) of the Act applicable.
So that the Notice is not deemed 'invalid', it is important that the details contained in the Notice is correct. It is, therefore, often usual that a Party Wall Surveyor will be requested by the Building Owner to serve on his behalf such a notice upon the Adjoining Owner(s).
Bestfoot Chartered Surveyors have the required knowledge and expertise to serve such a notice. For more information about serving a Party Wall Notice or how we can help, please contact us.
How is the Act implemented?
The Act details the specific obligations and notice periods applicable in each situation. If a dispute under the Act arises the parties must either each appoint their own Surveyor, or concur in the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor in accordance with Section 10 of the Act. The purpose of this appointment is to resolve the dispute by way of a Party Wall Award served upon the Owners.
What is a Party Wall Award?
A Party Wall Award is a legally binding, statutory document drafted by the appointed Surveyors, or by the Agreed Surveyor and served upon the Owners.
The purpose of such an Award is to resolve the dispute that has arisen between them so as to enable the works to proceed. The Award will set out the methods in which the works are to be carried out and will state who is responsible for the cost of the works and associated fees, which in normal circumstances will be the Building Owner. In most circumstances the Award will include a schedule of condition in order to safeguard the interests of both parties and to provide a record of the condition so as to make it easier to determine if damage has been caused by the works and the extent of the damage caused.
Bestfoot Chartered Surveyors provides expertise in this complex area of law for both residential and commercial property. For more information about Party Wall matters or how we can help, please contact us.
What is a Schedule of Condition?
A Schedule of Condition is a written report recording the current condition of a property. The Schedule of Condition will often include a photographic record. We will encourage the building owners to have a Schedule of Condition of the adjoining owners property undertaken prior to the commencement of works in order to ensure that the condition of the property is agreed. This will thereby safeguard the interests of both parties.
Why include a Schedule of Condition within an Award?
A schedule of condition can be referred to should damage later occur as a direct result of the works. The Schedule of Condition, if undertaken will become a part of the Award and therefore a legal record of the condition for later referral and can aid both parties in resolving such a dispute.