party wall awards

Building works close to neighbours

Most works are controlled by the Party Wall Act etc 1996 including:

  1. Work to existing party walls.
  2. New building on the boundary line.
  3. Excavations and foundations near neighbouring buildings (different rules apply: a) within 3 metres, and b) within 6 metres)

Service of Notice

Notice of building works needs to be served on neighbours as follows:

  1. Party structure Notice (existing walls) two months prior to works.
  2. New building on the boundary line one month prior to works.
  3. Excavations/foundations one month prior to works.

Building works cannot commence unless the correct Notice procedure has been followed.

Party Wall Awards

This is a document prepared by the Party Wall Surveyors authorising building work under the Act subject to conditions which safeguard the rights and interests of the two Adjoining Owners.

Damage caused to neighbouring property

The Award includes a Schedule of Condition which records the condition of the neighbouring property before work starts. This allows the surveyors to ascertain any damage caused by re-inspecting when the works are completed.

The Owner carrying out the works is responsible for the cost of repairs to his neighbour's building.

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Foundations

Excavations may undermine the foundations of neighbouring buildings causing structural movement.

The Party Wall Award sets out measures necessary to underpin or safeguard neighbours' foundations.  It often specifies modifications to the method of constructing foundations to prevent problems arising.

What if a neighbouring owner will not comply with the Act?

The Act provides for appointment of surveyors whether or not a Building Owner agrees.  In the last resort the Party Wall Award can be enforced by application to the County Court.

Appointment of Surveyors

The Act provides for each owner to appoint a surveyor.  The two surveyors jointly produce the Party Wall Award.  If they cannot agree then the matter is referred to a third surveyor.

The owners can agree to jointly appoint a single surveyor.  This is common with small non-contentious projects and the costs can be reduced.

Surveyors act independent and are not biased in favour of one owner.

Costs and Expenses

The surveyors decide who should pay costs including the cost of producing the Award.  Where the works benefit one owner then he or she will normally pay all costs and his neighbour pays nothing.  When the works benefit both owners then costs are normally paid jointly by both owners.

What does the Act cover?

The Act runs to twenty-two sections and there have been a large number of Court cases which affect the legal position.  This note is intended to give basic information only and is not an authoritative interpretation of the law.

If you have a specific problem or question please contact us for further advice.

Lloyd Davies Chartered Surveyors?

Ours is an independent firm of chartered surveyors established in 1996 providing advice on the value and condition of residential and commercial property in the London, Surrey, Hampshire, Sussex and Kent area.

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