Party Wall Procedure: A Brief Explanation
Party Wall etc. Act 1996
Part 2 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 allows the owner of the adjacent property to interfere with the Party Wall, but requires that at least two months before doing so a Party Structures Notice be served on all persons having an interest in the wall for a period greater than one year.
Where the owner is excavating to a depth lower than the base of the foundations of the Party Wall and within 3 metres (or 6 metres in certain cases) he has to serve a separate Notice accompanied by drawings.
The proposals cannot be resisted ultimately, although by dissenting from the Notice, appointing a surveyor and the preparation of a Party Wall Award, you will go a long way to protecting your interests.
A person on whom a notice is served can either agree to the works or dissent. In the event of the person not replying to the Notice within fourteen days he is deemed to have dissented. A dispute arises.
Dissent requires that both parties appoint a surveyor to settle the dispute.The appointment must be in writing. [Party Walls: Standard letter of Appointment] The two surveyors immediately appoint a Third Surveyor as umpire in case they are unable to agree, although it is rare for a Third Surveyor to be required to act. A very experienced surveyor is usually appointed.
Both surveyors then inspect the Party Wall and adjoining areas in order to prepare a Schedule of Condition. This will record defects in detail and is a very useful reference if there are complaints that the works have caused cracking or other damage.
A Party Wall Award is then prepared which sets out the scope of the works affecting the party structure, conditions for protecting the adjoining owner's interests, and includes the Schedule of Condition.
Party Wall Award
The basis of the Party Wall Award is to set out the conditions for the running of the building contract, insofar as they relate to the Party Wall (not the remainder of the building) so that they do not unnecessarily interfere with your occupation of your building, although some noise and general disturbance is unavoidable.
Works to the Party Wall cannot, by law, commence until fourteen days after the Party Wall Awards have been delivered to the owner and the adjoining owners. This allows a period during which the parties can appeal to the County Court if they believe the Award is unfair. This does not prevent other works taking place within the building, but the law concerning interfering with the Party Walls is strict.
Under normal circumstances the fees for the adjoining owner's surveyor are met by the owner carrying out the works, as are the fees of the structural engineer if one is appointed.
C:\WPWIN60\PARTYWAL\PROCEDUR.WPD Amended 02/09/98 20:22
Party Walls: Further Information
Updated 11 April 2003 20:35