- November 9, 2022
- Posted by: Chris Cooper
- Category: Party Walls
When Party Wall notices have been served on the adjoining owners they have a choice between consenting to the works or dissenting to the words and appointing their own surveyor (or selecting the agreed surveyor option), or they may do nothing, which will result in a deemed dissent and a surveyor being appointed on their behalf. Should the adjoining owner dissent to the notices then a dispute will have arisen as defined under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and this triggers the resolution mechanism under the Section 10 of the Act and a Party Wall Award will need to be agreed prior to the commencement of any notifiable party wall works.
Party Wall Awards – What are they and when can I start my works?
The Party Wall Award will set out the timing and manner in which the proposed notifiable works are to be undertaken. An award is drafted to reflect the specific type of notifiable works that are to be undertaken and will include clauses to allow the building owner to carry out these works, but in a way that will mitigate disturbance to the adjoining owner.
The notifiable works cannot commence until the notice period has elapsed for that notice type even if an Award is in place, but this can be waivered should the adjoining owner be willing to do so (usually once the Awards have been served on the owners the risks have been reviewed and adjoining owner should be comfortable to allow the works to proceed even within the notice period). During the process of agreeing the Party Wall Awards the two surveyors may request further information from the building owner to establish how the contractors propose to undertake works and to ensure that the adjoining owner’s property has been fully considered. This will also include items such as access to the adjoining owner’s property should this be required and a programme to ensure access to is for a reasonable time only.
What is Included in a Party Wall Award?
A Party Wall Award typically includes the following items:
- The particulars including the names of the parties to the dispute and the surveyors appointed to resolve the dispute.
- Clauses setting out the proposed works and how they are to be undertaken.
- Clauses relating to the rights and obligations of the building and adjoining owners during and after the works.
- Architect’s Drawings.
- Engineer’s Drawings and calculations.
- Contractor’s method statement.
Will I have an Award if I Consent to the Works?
If you consent to the works, then a Party Wall Award will not be made because an Award is made to resolve a dispute between the two owners. When the notices are consented to, there is no dispute between the two owners and therefore the surveyors do not have jurisdiction to make an award as the dispute resolution mechanism has not been triggered.
That being said, if an adjoining owner consents to the original Notice but at a later stage a dispute arises, they can dissent and appoint a surveyor to resolve the dispute. An example of this could be when the works are completed and the adjoining owner finds damage to their property and the two owners cannot agree on the cause or quantum of the damage. In this case a dispute has arisen and the building owner and adjoining owner require the advice of a surveyor to resolve this dispute, which then the dispute resolution procedures of the Party Wall etc 1996. Act 1996 and an Award for damages can be made and served on the parties.
We always advise building owners to have a schedule of condition undertaken to adjoining properties regardless of whether an adjoining owner consents to the Notices as this will protect them from unjustified claims for damage.
Do I need an Award for minor works?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is specific as to the type of work that requires a Notice and if you are ever in doubt, you should contact a suitably qualified party wall surveyor to advise, however, it is generally accepted that de minimis items such as hanging pictures on a wall and replastering should note require a Party Wall Notice.
What if the Building Owner does not follow the Clauses in the Party Wall Award?
Should the building owner deviate from the proposed and awarded works or not carry out the works in the timing and manner as set out in the Party Wall Award, we recommend that you inform your appointed surveyor immediately who will then speak to their counterpart to remind the building owner of their obligations. This often resolves the issue but where a building owner is persistently in breach of the Party Wall Award and has no intention of abiding by it then legal advice will need to be sought and the Award will need to be enforced legally to ensure the building owner complies with the terms of the Award. In some cases an injunction will be required to prevent the Building Owner from breaching the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
What happens if I start Works without an Award in Place?
Compliance with the Party Wall etc. 1996 is a legal requirement and must be followed when carrying out notifiable works. If the building owner does not comply with the Act, they will not receive the benefit of the rights within the Act, for example reasonable access to the neighbour’s property to facilitate notifiable construction works. If damage is caused to the neighbour’s property and no schedule of condition has been undertaken and notifiable works have been undertaken without serving Party Wall Notices, then the building owner is at risk of being liable for any damage as a result of their works. A building owner that carries out works without an Award in place must also be prepared for serious delays and cost to their project should the adjoining owner seek legal action in the form of an injunction to prevent further works being carried out until an Award is in place. The process of then agreeing a Party Wall Award can be much more time consuming than had they served the Notices and had the Award agreed prior to the commencement of works as the Surveyors now need to assess the works that have been carried out to date in respect of the condition to the adjoining owner’s property.
Party Wall Awards are made specific to each project, as they set out the timing and manner for those works. It is important that the correct Notices are served to prevent delays to the project and also provide the surveyors with as much information about the project as possible including contractor’s method statements, architect’s drawings, engineer’s proposals and any other information such as movement monitoring proposals that will need to be considered and included in the Award.
Do not hesitate to get in touch if you require advice relating to Party Wall Awards or if you notice works to a neighbouring property that have not served Notice.