The Party Wall etc Act 1996 – your Questions Answered
The origin of the Party Wall Act goes back many centuries. The first version was brought in to provide fire breaks between timber buildings. There have been many local acts over the years culminating with the London Building Act ( amendment ) Act 1939, which forms the framework for this Act and which covers the whole country.
In the 1996 Act , the party who wishes to carry out building works is called the Building Owner (BO), and their neighbour is called the Adjoining Owner (AO). The whole purpose of the Act is protect the interests of the AO. The Act comes into play when the BO wants to carry out building works which meet the following criteria:-
Party Wall (Fig 1 & 2): The foundations of the Party Wall are within 3M of the AO’s foundation or if a terrace property support is required in the Party Wall
Party Structure (Fig 3): The separating floor or ceiling between dwellings.
Party Fence Wall (Fig 4): The boundary fence between adjacent properties.
The procedure is that the BO appoints a Party Wall Surveyor to act for them . The Surveyor then sends a Notice the AO detailing the names of all parties, describing the works and includes drawings.
The AO has 12 days to reply saying either: (1) they are content for the works go ahead, in which case this is the end of the matter OR (2) they dissent. If they dissent, which implies they want a Party Wall Award, their options are to either using the BO’s Surveyor as Joint Surveyor for both parties, or to appoint their own Surveyor. With this situation therefore, and all others persons listed, the BO is responsible for paying all fees
If two Surveyors are involved, their first job is to nominate a Third Surveyor who will arbitrate on any dispute between the Surveyors or between the owners and the Surveyors. Their next duty is to visit the AO’s property and prepare a Schedule of Conditions of the Party Wall, which will be included in the Award.
The BO’s Surveyor then prepares a Draft Award which is sent to the AO’s Surveyor for comment. The Agreed Draft together with all the other documents forms the Award which is issued to all parties.
The Award is to include at least the following:-
- Any structural or other deficiencies in any part of the works.
- Confirmation that the AO’s premises have been inspected and Schedule of Conditions have been prepared.
- Confirmation that the AO’s property is sufficient for their needs.
- All pertinent drawings and documents are listed in an attached register.
- A description of the works to be carried out.
- The whole of the works is to be carried out at the sole cost of the BO.
- All reasonable precautions to be taken to support the AO’s property.
- Make Good all damage to the AO’s property or If required by the AO make payment in lieu of carrying out the works. The sum to be agreed by the Owners or by determined by the Surveyors.
- Compensate the AO or any occupier for any loss or damage.
- Carry out the whole of the works as far as practical from the BO’s side. If access to the AO’s property is required, 14 days’ notice is to be given except in the case of emergencies.
- Carefully protect the AO’s property with hoardings.
- Not use the AO’s property to store materials or for welfare provisions.
- Take precautions to prevent dust or debris falling on to the AO’s property.
- List the allowable working hours.
- Carry out the works with expedition.
- Act to minimise noise.
- If scaffolding to be used, details to be agreed by the Surveyors.
- Ensure deliveries outside working hours do not disturb AO.
- Indemnify the AO in respect of injuries, loss of life, and damage, including the cost of making any justifiable claims.
- BO or his contractor to takeout and maintain adequate insurance to fully cover the AO for any loss or damage and for public liability
- Permit the Surveyors access to the AO’s property.
- The whole of the works to be executed in accordance with Building Regulations & CDM Regulations.
- The AO surveyor’s fee to be listed.
- The Award signed by the Surveyor(s) to be issued to all parties plus a copy to the Contractor, so that they are aware of their obligations.
- The Award is null and void if the works are not started within 12 months or are not carried out diligently.
Each party to the Award may within 14 days appeal to County Court against the Award.
If you would like further information on the Act or would like me to advise you on a Party Wall matter, I would be pleased to assist. Just contact me on 07710 526086 or via this link>>>