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Party Walls

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on June 14, 2016 at 12:25 PM

A question we often get asked is can we cover a Party Wall Award as part of the service and unfortunately the answer is no.

As a Building Inspector we are being paid to check on the safety and conformity of the Building Owner's works from one side of the boundary.

We will not normally enter the neighbours property at any stage, certaintly not before works start and will not be able to assist with any damage claim.

Therefore it is important that you appoint your own party wall surveyor. Even if you do not intend on appointing a party wall surveyor, it is important that you get a party wall notice served. Without a valid Party Wall Act notice the works may take place contrary to the legal provisions of the Party Wall Act.

A "party wall award" is a legally binding document prepared by specialist "party wall surveyors”. It allows the building owner to undertake works at, or close to the party wall lawfully whilst safeguarding the rights of the adjoining owner. The "party wall award" determines how and when the party wall works are to be undertaken, states the precise nature of the party wall works in plain English, and sets in place procedures and obligations to protect both parties from potential damage or claims. As a part of the "party wall award" the party wall surveyors will generally examine and comment upon the drawings for the works.This is in addition to our checks that it will meet Building Regulations.

 

In most cases party wall surveyors will also attach a "schedule of condition" which is a written report of his/her survey of the relevant parts of the adjoining owner's property. The "schedule of condition" allows the party wall surveyors to return to the adjoining property after completion of the party wall works to verify and record any damage that may have occurred. The schedule easily allows claims for damages to be verified and dealt with quickly. It also ensures both parties have a written record of their legal position and the party wall award can therefore often prevent future neighbourly disputes. In some cases the only way to resolve a disputed claim for damages without a "party wall award" is through the courts, which usually puts an end to any amicable neighbourly relations.

 

If  work may be starting without party wall notice being served, and works will fall under the Party Wall Act , then it is possible to get an order from the court which will stop such works until a notice is served and you are given the opportunity to appoint party wall surveyors.

More answers to the most commonly asked questions about the Party Wall Notices can be found in the Government's Party Wall Act 1996 Explanatory Booklet which can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website along with templates for letters and notices see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/party-wall-etc-act-1996-guidance


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