Party Wall Awards
Party wall awards are important when you want to carry out any building work near or on a shared property boundary. They are designed to resolve disputes before and after they occur and are the gold standard when drawn up by a Chartered Building Surveyor such as Metcalfe Briggs.
A party wall award is most cost effective when produced by a single agreed surveyor, although in many circumstances both the building owner and the adjoining owner(s) will each appoint a surveyor.
What does a Party Wall Award include?
Schedule of condition (TO Assess damage before/after)
The schedule of condition for any parts of the property owned by the adjoining owner which may become affected during the works or as a result of the works. The surveyor appointed by the adjoining owner will revisit after the works to check the schedule of condition and assess any damage liabilities for the building owner.
The party wall award can include the agreed working hours of the works, along with the usage of any noise or vibration mitigating equipment (e.g. barriers).
The building owner may require access to the property belonging to the adjoining owner.
Is the Surveyor's award final?
The Award is final unless an appeal is brought to the county court against it within 14 days. An appeal can only be brought if the building owner or adjoining owner believe that the surveyor is fundamentally wrong.
Appealing against a party wall award
If you don't agree with the party wall award, you may wish to take legal advice as, according to the Gov.uk page on party walls and building work, you will need to file an explanation of your appeal to a county court within 14 days. Find your nearest relevant county court here.
Party Wall Award vs Party Wall Agreement - what's the difference?
- Agreements still require you to serve notice but the parties involved create the formal written agreement themselves, without appointing a surveyor.
- Agreements are only really practical when the party wall work is simple, and a less formal agreement between the building owner and neighbour(s) is required.
- It is advisable to still get the help of a surveyor who is familiar with the Party Wall Act 1996, to draft an agreement, as it will still be legally binding. So you want to get it right.
- Agreements are not likely to be much cheaper than an award, if you do desire the assistance of a Surveyor (which we would of course, recommend).
- There are generic downloadable party wall agreements around the web for the DIYer but using such a one-size-fits-all solution can cause more issues than it resolves!
- A party wall agreement doesn't usually include a final inspection (to clarify whether any damage has been caused by the works) by a surveyor although this can be added on.
- A party wall agreement provides the same rights and protections that a party wall award does.
- If a dispute arises after a party wall agreement has been made, a surveyor should be appointed, and a party wall award will likely be drawn up by the appointed surveyor(s) in order to resolve the matter.
- A party wall award is a legally binding document drawn up by the agreed surveyor(s) which includes drawings, a condition survey, method statements from the builder (if possible), and it sets out the specific obligations and rights for the parties involved under the party wall act.
- A party wall award is the more reliable option to safeguard your property from the work of your neighbour, while providing as little interference to their work as practicable.
- A surveyor is appointed to represent each, or both parties.
- A party wall award is designed in order to resolve disputes. It is also used to give rights, obligations, precautions and provisions to the parties involved.
Benefits for the building owner
- Protects you against unwarranted damage claims by the adjoining owner. It may not come as a surprise that many adjoining owners will claim that a crack in their wall is new, and due to your work!
- Provides you with agreed access rights for the adjoining owner's property in order to complete the required works.
Disadvantages for the building owner
- If you are only carrying out minor party wall works such as renewing the pointing, flashings or are inserting a new damp proof course, then you may find that serving a party wall notice will suffice, given the low risk of damage during work. That being said - if they actively dissent to such notifiable minor works, or if they simply don't respond within 14 days, then you'll need to pursue a party wall award nonetheless.
Benefits for the adjoining owner (neighbour)
- Protects you and your family from excessive noise, inappropriate access times and unnecessary inconvenience.
- Gives peace of mind that your home or your land will not be at risk during the course of the work.
- Ensures you are covered for damages incurred by the building owner's work, without necessarily needing to go through the courts or tribunal.
Serving a party wall award
If the appointed or joint surveyors make the party wall award, it will be immediately served.
In some cases the building owner's surveyor will send a list of three surveyors to the adjoining owner's surveyor, who will then pick one. This surveyor is then known as 'The Third Surveyor' and could actually be the one making the party wall award.
The building owner's surveyor doesn't know which of the 3 was picked until the award has been made.
The party wall award could arrive by post, or e-mail if the adjoining owner(s) have said they're happy to receive communication in this way.