The year 2020 has undoubtedly led to a rise in building work on homes and properties across the country. With more of us working from home or indoors, we’re looking at our houses and wondering how to improve them. However, there are many issues to consider. Not least, the impact of any building work on our neighbours. This is where a Party Wall Agreement could be beneficial to you if you’re considering undertaking major improvements. But what is a party wall agreement and how can it help?
Perhaps you live in a terraced house and you’d like an extension built. Or maybe you are the owner of a commercial property and need to build a wall around your boundary.
A party wall award is an agreement made between at least two neighbouring occupiers before any work begins. This doesn’t apply to any building job. In particular, it applies to work due to take place to a party boundary or structure. In addition to any work close by a party boundary or structure.
Essentially, there are three main types of work that require a Party Wall Award and these are;
A party wall award is the final documentation in the party wall process. It ensures that the adjoining owners are legally protected in the event of any damage taking place which is caused by the work.
A Party Wall Agreement is technically the same as above. However the person undertaking the work and their neighbours both consent to the work going ahead, without involving surveyors.
It is a legal agreement made between you and your neighbours regarding any building work that affects either a shared wall, outbuilding or boundary.
The purpose of the agreement is to provide both parties with a balanced, written framework for ensuring that the work is carried out legally, fairly and safely. Furthermore, it sets out a simple way to resolve any disputes if they arise.
In order to get a party wall agreement, firstly you need to serve a party wall notice.
The notice goes to your neighbour or neighbours two months before any work begins. As well as this, the notice must go to all legal owners of any building affected by your proposed build. For example, maybe the flat next door is owned by 4 people but rented out. The notice still needs to go to all four legal owners.
Your neighbours then have 14 days to respond to the notice according to the Party Wall Act from 1996.
Planning any work on a wall that acts as a division between your property and your neighbour’s property usually requires a party wall notice.
Additionally, if your plans include building a new wall near or on the boundary, then you’ll also need a party wall notice.
Giving notice and getting permission from a neighbour is referred to as a party wall agreement as detailed above. There are different categories of notice, depending on where the wall is.
Party wall issues can become complicated. To speed up the agreement process, it’s important to get legal help. You will need to select the right documents and make sure they go to the right people.
The surveyor or surveyors will decide who pays the fees for drawing up the party wall award. As well as this, they will check the work has been carried out in accordance with the award. Usually, the building owner pays all of these costs.
Surveyors and other companies will generally charge between £65-£100 to arrange a notice to be served on your behalf. Alternatively, you can draft your own.
By using McCallums, we’ll help advise you on the best course of action.
Sometimes there are complications and disputes arising from a party wall notice. A procedure was introduced to resolve disputes in the 1996 Party Wall Act.
Occasionally, an intention to carry out work that affects a neighbour’s party wall or boundary wall can lead to disagreements.
You may decide that you don’t need a party wall notice. However, it can protect you in the long run.
What happens if a neighbour claims that you have damaged their property in any way with the work you are doing?
A Party Wall Notice which is followed by a formal Party Wall Award can help to avoid any future issues. Additionally it can come in handy as an effective means of resolving any legal disputes that could end up in court.
For the cost of a few hundred pounds to get a formal arrangement drawn up, you could save yourself a lot of money and problems. Ultimately, no one wants to end up in court with their neighbour at a cost of thousands in legal fees.
In conclusion, a party wall agreement is a great idea if you are planning building work at or near your neighbour’s wall or boundary. It is a formal and legal arrangement which follows a system of giving notice on your work and getting permission from your neighbour to go ahead with it.
At McCallums we can act for either the building or adjoining owners. We have experience with small residential extensions up to multi million pound commercial developments.
For building owners, we serve the appropriate notices under the Act. We can also liaise with the adjoining owners’ surveyors and prepare the schedules of condition. Additionally, we prepare and agree the party wall awards and attend to any matters during the building work. Finally, we sign off the awards upon completion.
If you need a party wall agreement, get in touch with McCallums and see how we can help you.