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  • Belfrage Surveying Services

What is a Party Wall Award and do I need one?

When Party Wall notices are served on adjoining owners, they can choose to consent to the works, dissent and appoint their surveyor, or take no action, leading to deemed dissent and an appointed surveyor. Dissenting triggers a dispute under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, requiring Party Wall Surveyors to be appointed to serve a Party Wall Award before notifiable works begin.


Party Wall Awards

A Party Wall Award, sometimes known as a party wall agreement, is a legal document outlining what works are permitted, the timing and manner of proposed notifiable works and controls how and when they can be undertaken. It enables works to proceed that would otherwise be illegal. Each Party Wall Award is tailored to the specific property and the notifiable works proposed, including clauses to allow the building owner to proceed while minimising disturbance and unnecessary inconvenience to an adjoining owner and occupier. Notifiable works can't start until the notice period elapses, but this can be waived and detailed in the Award. The notice period is either one month or two months depending on the works proposed.


Components of a Party Wall Award

A Party Wall Award typically includes details like the parties involved, surveyors appointed, proposed works, rights and obligations during and after the works, architect's drawings, engineer's designs, Schedule of Condition of the adjoining owner’s property and the contractor's method statement.


Consent and Party Wall Awards

Consenting to works detailed in a notice means no Party Wall Award is required, as it's designed to resolve disputes arrising from dissent to a notice. However, if a dispute arises later, the adjoining owner can appoint a surveyor. A dispute may occur during the works or soon after completion if damage is found, leading to the resolution procedures of the Party Wall ect. Act 1996. Once notice is served, the full protection of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is afforded to the adjoining owner, even if they consent to the works.


It is always advisable to at least have a Schedule of Condition completed of the adjoining owner’s property before the works start.


Minor Works

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 specifies which works require a notice. Generally, minor works like hanging pictures or wall tiling may not need a Party Wall Notice.


If you are in doubt you should contact a suitably qualified Party Wall Surveyor to advise.


Non-Compliance with Party Wall Award

If the building owner deviates from the awarded works, the appointed surveyor(s) should be informed immediately to address the issue. Legal advice may be needed if the breach persists, and an injunction might be required to enforce compliance.


Starting Works Without an Award

Compliance with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is crucial and an additional statutory requirement for owners proposing building works. Starting works without an award can result in loss of rights, liability for damages, legal action, and serious delays and costs to the project.


If notifiable building works are completed in the absence of notices and an Award and damage occurs to an adjoining owner’s property, the building owner completing the works will still remain liable for the damages. However, proving the extent of the damages caused by the works will be more difficult, especially in the absence of a Schedule of Condition. Therefore, it will be near impossible to prove whether the damages and their extent was in fact caused by the building works or pre-existing to the works. Consequently, it is in the building owner’s interest to ensure the procedures of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 have been followed.


Conclusion

Party Wall Awards are project-specific, specifying the timing and manner of works. Proper notice service prevents delays, and providing comprehensive information aids surveyors in creating effective awards. Contact us for advice on Party Wall Awards or if you notice works in preogress without proper notice having been served. We are also able to advise on the validity of notices served to ensure compliance with the PArty Wall etc. Act 1996.

 

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