Many homeowners in England and Wales are still unaware of their obligations under this act as a result of planned works to their property where these works evoke the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
The act can apply depending on the nature and location of works being carried out but will be evoked where works are being carried out to shared party walls or shared structures between two properties. The act may also apply where works or excavations are carried out near party walls, boundary walls and areas owned by a neighbouring property. The act sets out the requirements for owners carrying out works to abide by where these works fall within the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. The act is designed to ensure any applicable works carried out by the ‘Building Owner’ (owner having the works carried out) do not cause damage or loss to the neighbouring property/properties (known as the ‘Adjoining Owner’) and to act as a framework for parties to follow and refer to in order to reduce the risk of and help resolve any disputes arising from the works.
The Building Owner carrying out the works must serve (or engage a Party Wall Surveyor) to serve the appropriate notices on any affected Adjoining Owner which notifies them of the proposed works and provides accompanying details of works to be carried out. It is worth considering approaching and discussing the proposals with neighbours before serving notice(s) to give the parties a chance to discuss the works and any arising queries. The notice(s) then gives the Adjoining Owner(s) the opportunity to consent or dissent to the works. Should the Adjoining Owner(s) consent, the works can proceed (but must still comply with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996) without the need for a Party Wall Award. Where Adjoining Owner(s) provide their consent, the Building Owner must still adhere to the act and will still be responsible for any damage caused by the works and should ensure a schedule of condition/condition survey to document the current condition of any affected neighbouring property/properties is undertaken. This schedule can then be referred to in the event there are any claims of damage being caused by the works to the neighbouring property to help ascertain if the alleged damage is as a result of the works being carried out, or whether any reported defects existed prior to the works commencing.
If the Adjoining Owner(s) dissent to the works, this does not mean that the works cannot be carried out but gives the Adjoining Owner(s) the opportunity to engage a Party Wall Surveyor to act on their behalf, of which the reasonable costs of this surveyor will be the responsibility of the Building Owner carrying out the works. In the event of an Adjoining Owner dissenting, a Party Wall Award must be produced and agreed between the Adjoining Owner’s Party Wall Surveyor and the Building Owner’s Party Wall Surveyor. The two Party Wall Surveyors must then compile and agree an Award that adheres to the requirements of the act and sets out the works being undertaken, the parties affected, the methodology and should also make reference to and include as an appendix any relevant documents such as construction drawings, schedule(s) of condition etc. which form part of the Award. In the event that the Party Wall Surveyors acting separately for the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner(s) cannot agree, a third Party Wall Surveyor may need to be engaged.
Whilst the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 may seem onerous to Building Owners looking to carry out works and can result in additional costs to comply with their obligations under this act, this legislation is designed to facilitate works being carried in a reasonable manner whilst also aiming to protect adjoining properties and their owners.
Engaging an experienced Party Wall Surveyor can enable the process to run more smoothly and gives Building Owners the confidence that their obligations under the act are being met. Do you have an upcoming project or works and think you may need a Party Wall Surveyor or are you a neighbour that has been informed of works being carried out at a neighbouring property? Contact us to discuss on 01872 277230 or via email – firstname.lastname@example.org