How is party wall damage dealt with and who pays for it?
Is your neighbour about to begin a home renovation project that might include a loft conversion or an extension? Or are you the homeowner embarking on an extensive property renovation project? Party wall Awards are of great importance to safeguard both parties from unnecessary disputes and conflict between neighbours.
Essentially, a party wall is the shared wall, usually between a terrace or semi-detached house, and divides the homes of two separate owners. It may also include garden walls built over a boundary and excavations close to a neighbour’s property (within three or six meters, depending on the depth of the new foundations). Party wall Awards are most commonly needed for building projects that involve loft conversions, basement excavations, internal renovation and extensions.
Damage caused by works notifiable under the party wall etc. 1996 Act to a neighbour’s (adjoining owner) property is referred to as party wall damage and in most cases, the onus lies upon the building owner to make good the damage.
In an ideal situation, the following procedures should be undertaken:
- Building owner to serve the adjoining owner with Party Wall Notice(s).
- Appoint a Party Wall Surveyor acceptable to both owners or each owner to appoint their own surveyor.
- Complete a Schedule of Condition Report of the adjoining owner’s property
- Appointed surveyor or surveyors to agree a Party Wall Award
Point c) – completion of a Schedule of Condition Report is an important step, especially for the building owner and should be undertaken by an experienced Party Wall Surveyor. This report consists of a detailed survey (usually both written and photographic) of the condition of those areas of the adjoining owner’s property which might be affected by the works before construction begins. This protects both the building owner and the adjoining owner in the event of any damage to the adjoining property being reported.
So, what happens if the adjoining owner reports damage to his or her property because of the building work?
Once the appointed party wall surveyor(s) have been notified there are three possible routes to go down, all at the choice of the adjoining owner.
- Perhaps the most amicable route is when the building owner and the adjoining owner discuss and agree on a course of action without engaging the appointed party wall surveyor(s). In that scenario the two neighbours agree between themselves on arrangements for the damage to be made good or for financial compensation to be made. The advantage for the building owner on perusing this course of action is that he will not have to incur the additional professional fee costs of the appointed surveyor(s). Note if the damage is minor the cost of surveyor’s fees could be greater than the cost of the repair works.
- The appointed surveyor(s) identify the scope of the repair works by cross-referencing the pre-works condition report and a written schedule of repair works is drawn up and agreed between them. The adjoining owner agrees for the building owner’s contractors to undertake the repair work scoped by the appointed surveyor(s). The adjoining owner may also request that the appointed party wall surveyor(s) confirm that repairs have been carried out satisfactorily on completion.
- The third route is as point 2 however instead of carrying the repairs the building owner agrees to pay the adjoining owner a financial compensation based on a determination made by the appointed surveyor(s). The adjoining owner can then choose to appoint his own contractor to carry out the works at his own convenience.
How is the cost of the repair determined?
This is probably the most important question with the potential to cause maximum conflict between neighbours.
One of the ways the cost can be determined is to get quotes for the repair work from three contractors sourced by the party wall surveyor(s). The party wall surveyor(s) then selects the most appropriate contractor for the job and arranges to get the funds to the adjoining owner, enabling them to get the damage corrected.
Alternatively, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recommends the use of a cost guide to determine repair costs. The Building Cost Information Service of BICS is the industry standard cost guide that most party wall surveyors refer to. Once the cost is determined, the building owner is notified to transfer the amount to the adjoining owner, allowing them to commence repair work.
So, if you or your neighbour are planning a loft conversion or an extension and need guidance on Party Wall Awards, please contact us on 020 8381 3910. or message us by clicking on the aforementioned link (https://arunassociates.co.uk/contact-us/
With over 20 years’ experience in dealing with Party Wall Awards, Arun Associates will give you the best possible advice for your specific situation. Our initial advice about how the Act applies to your project is FREE with no obligations, so you’ve got nothing to lose by giving us a call.