SERVICES | Party Wall Notices & Awards
In 2011, we began offering party wall related services to complement our daylight, sunlight and rights of light work. Drawing on the expertise of our in-house party wall surveyors and associate firms, we now provide a nationwide neighbourly matters service. Our neighbourly matters team can assist with all types of party wall notices, awards, oversail and boundary issues.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
Party wall agreements may be required in addition to planning permission and building regulations approval. The Act regulates any building work on or near your shared party wall, boundary wall or other party structures in England & Wales. Party structures include floors that separate parts of buildings with different owners (such as flats). The Act is not concerned solely with party walls, but also specified types of construction work on, or near, the boundary between adjoining properties. For example, excavations at certain depths and within certain distances of adjoining buildings are regulated, even where no party wall is present. The Act also regulates work to certain types of structure wholly in the ownership of one of two neighbouring owners.
It is the building owner’s responsibility to find out whether their intended works fall within the scope of the Act and whether they need a Party Wall Award. If the works are regulated by the Act, the building owner must correctly serve Party Wall Notices to all the affected adjoining owners. The building owner must also obtain the written consent of each party. Building owners must notify adjoining owners if they intend to;
- build astride the boundary line or adjacent to the boundary line of the relevant properties (such as building a new wall);
- undertake work on an existing party wall or party structure (such as cutting into a party wall, increasing or decreasing the size of a party wall, removing chimneys or rebuilding a party wall);
- excavate near any part of the adjoining owners building and to below the foundations of any part of the adjoining owners building.
The Act provides statutory authority to perform acts that would otherwise constitute the tort of trespass or nuisance, provided that the procedures under the Act are followed. The Act authorises work that may involve physical encroachment onto a neighbour’s land, or produce dust, vibration, noise or some other inconvenience or annoyance, but it must be carried out in such a way that it does not cause unnecessary inconvenience. If this is caused, it would be unlawful and actionable by adjoining owners or occupiers.
If written consent is not obtained, a dispute is deemed to have occurred. Joint or individual surveyors must be appointed to resolve the dispute. Party wall surveyors are appointed under section 10 of the Act and undertake a statutory role. They balance the interests of the two appointing parties and are not permitted to frustrate the statutory process. They are also required to ensure that the building owner is able to exercise their rights under the Act, but in such a way that only necessary inconvenience is caused to adjoining owners or occupiers. This is achieved by the surveyors defining a Party Wall Award which details the work that may be lawfully carried out under the Act and by surveyors undertaking reasonable inspections of work to which the Award relates.
The Award is a legally binding document which will clarify what works will happen, how and when they are undertaken and what share of the reasonable costs each party must pay. Reasonable costs are generally considered those incurred in obtaining and making an award, which includes the reasonable fees of the appointed or selected surveyors and other appropriate advisers. Responsibility for these costs is determined by the surveyors making the award but are generally covered by the building owner.