If you have received a Party Wall Notice from your neighbours, you may be wondering about the next steps you should take. At Squarepoint Surveyors we have many years’ experience in representing both Adjoining Owners and Building Owners in party wall matters and would be happy to assist.
I’ve received a Party Wall Notice – what are my options?
Once you have read the Party Wall Notice, there are three ways in which you can respond:
1 – Provide your consent
If you are comfortable with the details provided by your neighbour then you have 14 days to confirm, in writing, that you are happy for them to commence their work. No further formalities of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 would be required.
2 – Dissent to the works and appoint your own surveyor
If you aren’t happy with the plans proposed by your neighbour then you can appoint your own surveyor to follow the dispute resolution process outlined in the Party Wall etc Act 1996, negotiating with the Building Owner’s surveyor to ensure that your property and interests are protected in a Party Wall Award. In this situation, your neighbour is responsible for all reasonable fees of your surveyor.
3 – Dissent and appoint an agreed surveyor with your neighbour.
You may feel comfortable choosing one ‘agreed surveyor’ with your neighbour. This is where one surveyor is chosen to act impartially on behalf of both parties, although it’s advised that the surveyor is carefully selected for their experience.
Failing to respond to the Notice within 14 days will be automatically considered as a dissent and will begin the dispute resolution process. As an Adjoining Owner, how you decide to respond to the Notice dictates the procedure that the Building Owner must follow. We strongly recommend considering your options carefully and take the opportunity to discuss plans with your neighbour and get professional advice from a specialist surveyor.
For more information about the process, read our blog post about what happens when you are served a Party Wall Notice.
What is covered in a Party Wall Award?
A Party Wall Award should outline the fair and reasonable terms under which the Building Owner’s work may be carried out. These often include requirements that are specific to the properties in question, however the clauses generally cover:
• A Schedule of Condition, signed by both surveyors
• A description of the works, including drawings
• An agreement of the cost and liability for surveyors’ and engineers’ fees
• The methods that will be used to carry out the work
• Planned timing and completion date of the project
• The agreed hours of work and access permissions
• Indemnities by the Building Owner in favour to the Adjoining Owner
• How damages and claims will be handled
Why is there a Third Surveyor on the Party Wall Award?
If you have chosen to appoint a separate surveyor from your neighbour, you may notice that a third surveyor has been named on the Party Wall Award. In many cases, this third surveyor will have been agreed upon by the acting surveyors without the knowledge of the Building Owner or Adjoining Owner, but there is no need for concern. They will only be called upon in the event that a dispute between the two acting surveyors cannot be resolved.
As distinguished Party Wall Surveyors, Squarepoint is frequently selected as a third surveyor to determine the outcome of any dispute between surveyors. Should one of the appointed surveyors fail or refuse to act in accordance with the Party Wall etc Act 1996, we will step in to take their place for either party.
What happens if damage occurs to my property?
If your home, garden or other property suffers damage as a direct result of the work being carried out on the party wall, the Building Owner is legally obliged to repair it.
Before any work commences it is essential that a Schedule of Condition is carried out to record the initial state of any areas that may be affected by the works. This will make it much easier to identify new damage, providing evidence for Adjoining Owners and also protecting Building Owners from false claims.
Assuming both parties agree on the cause of the damage, there are several ways in which they can proceed. All of which are at the discretion of the Adjoining Owner – no decision can be made without their consent.
• The Building Owner and Adjoining can jointly agree on the extent and cost of the repair work required
• The Building Owner’s contractor can conduct the repairs
• The Building Owner pays the Adjoining Owner an agreed sum that allows them to arrange their own contractor to make repairs
Repair costs can be calculated in one of two ways; either the Party Wall Surveyor(s) will arrange for 3 contractor quotes to be provided before agreeing on the most appropriate, or the Surveyor(s) will use a cost guide, such as the Building Cost Information Service, to agree the cost of repair.
For more details about party wall matters or to appoint a Squarepoint surveyor to represent you, please contact us today. You can send an email via our contact page or talk to our friendly team directly on 0207 651 0000.