Adjoining Owner Party Wall Advice

As a neighbour (‘Adjoining Owner’) to building works you might not welcome the upheaval from noise and disruption that is likely to be caused, for instance.

Whilst this may be the case, it is important to note that the primary purpose of the Party Wall Act is to facilitate development and allow works to progress. However, the Act also provides important rights and protections to an Adjoining Owner.

What are a Building Owners’ duties under the Act?

In return for rights to carry out certain works, the building owner must comply with the provisions of the Act. This includes the duty to notify you in advance of work starting, for instance.

The building owner is legally responsible for putting right any damage caused by carrying out the works, even if the damage is caused by a contractor.

You cannot stop someone from exercising the rights given to them by the Party Wall Act, but you may be able to influence how and at what times the work is done.

If you do not respond to notice from a building owner concerning work to an existing party structure or an excavation, you will be deemed to be in ‘dispute’ with them. In this case, and in the event of a dispute concerning a new wall at the boundary, if you refuse or fail to concur in the appointment of an agreed surveyor, or to appoint a surveyor of your own, the building owner will be able to appoint a second surveyor on your behalf so that the dispute resolution procedure can proceed without your co-operation.

The Act allows for the same surveyor to be appointed by both the building owner and the adjoining owner (known as an ‘Agreed Surveyor’) but often adjoining owners prefer to appoint a surveyor they have chosen.

What rights does an Adjoining Owner have?

Adjoining Owners have the right to:

  • Appoint a surveyor to resolve any dispute.
  • Require reasonable necessary measures to be taken to protect their property from damage and for their security.
  • Not to endure any unnecessary inconvenience.
  • Be compensated for loss or damage caused by building works.
  • Request security for expenses before work starts under the Act. This is to guard against any potential loss, such as if works are not completed for instance.

What does an Adjoining Owners’ surveyor do?

The surveyor (or surveyors) will settle the dispute by making an ‘award’ (also known as a ‘party wall award’). This is a document which sets out:

  • The work that will be carried out
    When and how the work is to be carried out (to limit times of noisy work for instance)
  • Specifies any additional work required (protective measures to prevent damage for instance)
  • It usually contains a record of the condition of the adjoining property before the work begins. This is desirable as it can assist in identifying and attributing any damage to adjoining properties.
  • Allows access for the surveyor to inspect the works while they are going on as may be necessary, to ensure they are in accordance with the award.
  • Where the proposed works involve underpinning and basement excavation the party wall award will be more complex to reflect the greater risk. It may also include issues such as security for expenses and Special Foundations to protect the interests of the Adjoining Owner.

Who pays the surveyor’s fees?

The Building Owner (the party carrying out the work) will usually pay all costs associated with drawing up the Award. This usually includes the adjoining owner’s surveyors’ fees if the works are solely for the Building Owner’s benefit.

The Adjoining Owner’s surveyor keeps a record of their time and when all other matters have been resolved puts their fee forward to the building owner’s surveyor for agreement. If the two surveyors fail to agree upon what constitutes a reasonable fee, they can refer the matter to the Third Surveyor who will have the final say.

Further Guidance for Adjoining Owners

There is some further information on the UK Government’s website relating to the Party Wall process.

If you are unsure how the Party Wall Act affects your property and want some advice, please give us a call and book in for a telephone consultation. This is charged at a fixed rate.

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