The document that is produced by the two appointed party wall surveyors (or the single “agreed surveyor”) is known as a Party Wall Award (or Party Wall Agreement) but even if you are entitled to one do you really need one?
Let’s take a look at who benefits from the Act.
For the building owner the Act:
- Ensures that existing cracks and other defects to the adjoining property are recorded by a surveyor before the works commence (although technically the adjoining owner could refuse access).
- Provides a right of access to the adjoining owner’s property to execute work in pursuance of the Act where such is necessary.
For the adjoining owner the Act:
- Allows the surveyors to control the times during which the notifiable work can be executed.
- Includes provisions for dealing with damage without the need for a civil claim.
- Provides assurances that their land or buildings will not be compromised during the course of the work.
- Ensures that the works are carried out without unnecessary inconvenience.
Although the adjoining owner receives the greater number of benefits those received by the building owner can be very important, particularly in protecting themselves from spurious claims for damage. It is amazing how an adjoining owner will swear blind that the crack in their property never existed before all that banging started next door.
The only situations where the benefits gained from a party wall award do not outweigh the cost of preparing it is with minor works. Examples include re-pointing, renewal of flashings or the insertion of a damp proof courses. These are all tasks where technically a party wall notice should be served but the likelihood of significant damage to a neighbour’s property is minimal.
It should be remembered that just because an adjoining owner avoids a party wall dispute by consenting to minor party wall works the building owner’s responsibilities do not disappear. If there is a dispute between the owners later in the process, for instance over some alleged damage, surveyors may still be appointed to resolve it.
If you are located within the London M25 area you can contact the authors of this article, the party walls team at Peter Barry Chartered Surveyors, on 020 7183 2578 or by email and receive up to 20 mins free advice on the subject of party wall awards and other party wall related matters.