As a structural engineering and surveyor consultancy, we offer a multitude of services to our clients. One of these is party wall surveying, something that can be a confusing process, even for those with experience in construction.
As expert party wall surveyors, we can help you negotiate any party wall matter that affects your property. In this guide, we break down precisely what is a party wall, what it is that a party wall surveyor does, and give some situations where you might need our help.
What is a Party Wall?
A Party Wall is any wall which two or more properties share, with each property owned by a different person. These walls might be part of one building only, or it might separate buildings belonging to different owners. These walls are on the shared property boundary, such as the walls separating terraced or semi-detached housing, or the walls that form the barrier between two gardens. However, a party wall can also include floors and ceilings between flats or apartment buildings.
Any work which is carried out on the party wall, or within three or six metres of a neighbouring property, may require the Party Wall Act 1996’s procedures to be followed. For more information on what counts as a party wall and how they work, you can read our guide here for more details.
What is the Party Wall Act?
The Party Wall Act originated with a piece of legislation in place in London more than 300 years ago, with its roots in The Great Fire of London. The Act itself is designed to enable work to be carried out on a party wall while all interested parties are protected and informed.
As such, if you are planning to have any building work carried out on your property, or your neighbour is seeking to carry out any job, there is a good chance that some of the said work might fall under the Party Wall Act. There are somewhat strict procedures one ought to follow if any action needs to be undertaken, and if you think you need support on a party wall issue, get in touch, and we will be happy to provide you with our advice.
What is a Party Wall Surveyor?
A party wall surveyor is an impartial advisor who sets out to resolve disputes between the person seeking to do work to their party wall and their neighbours surrounding the party wall. Once appointed, the surveyor’s appointment cannot be rescinded unless they either declare themselves incapable of continuing or passes away.
Party wall surveyors typically are building experts – structural engineers, architects, or surveyors, for example. This in part is why we at Martin Perry, as structural engineers in Devon and Cornwall, are ideally placed to provide support around party wall issues. A party wall surveyor is usually agreed upon by both disputing parties. If this happens, the person appointed is the “Agreed Surveyor”. If the two parties cannot agree upon a surveyor, then each can select a surveyor, who each, in turn, appoints a ‘Third Surveyor’. If the two surveyors then disagree at some point in the process, the third surveyor can be called upon to make a decision.
What Does a Party Wall Surveyor Do?
When a party wall surveyor is appointed, they first draw up a ‘party wall award’, sometimes known as an agreement. This is a document which sets out the owner’s rights and responsibilities concerning how and when work should proceed, including working hours, access for the surveyors during the works, and what happens in case of damage.
If a party does not agree with the award, then it can be appealed to the county court within two weeks of the notice being issued. However, before doing so, it is best to speak with the surveyor so he can answer any questions or issues you might first have.
Does the Party Wall Act Resolve Boundary Disputes?
The Party Wall Act does not contain any provisions that involve boundary lines or boundary line disagreements. If you do have such an issue, then going through alternative dispute resolution processes, such as mediation or decision by an independent expert, might be cheaper. You may also resolve the matter by going through the courts.
Why do I Need A Party Wall Surveyor?
You need a surveyor in order to properly follow the processes laid out in the Party Wall Act 1996. They determine how and when building work is carried out when required. They can also help minimise disputes by properly notifying neighbours and preparing documents to give fair warning to everyone involved of likely activity that affects them.
A party wall surveyor is essential if there is a dispute between yourself and a neighbour for drawing up a Party Wall Award document. Under the Award, the surveyor must be granted access to both properties to make necessary inspections during the course of the works. Until the party wall issue is resolved, it is illegal for the building owner implementing the works to continue with anything other than essential or emergency jobs to the party wall, so it is well worth appointing a party wall surveyor swiftly to resolve party wall issues.
Here at Martin Perry Associates, we can give clear, impartial, expert advice to anyone regarding party wall issues. Should a dispute arise, get in touch and we will be happy to act as the party wall surveyor for any further work required.