When undertaking developments it is important to consider the effect on neighbouring properties as they will experience potential disruption during the works without receiving any benefits.
It is a requirement that notice should be given to adjoining property owners and the Party Wall Act 1996 is aimed at agreeing the works to be undertaken and settling any differences before they arise.
With the development of brownfield and infill sites and conversion of existing buildings taking place it is important that Building Owners have obtained all statutory permissions. With this willingness to develop, extend and convert properties it should act as reminder that all processes must be followed before commencing works on site to avoid disputes.
James Vowles of Bruton Knowles said the Party Wall Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes between owners of neighbouring properties in relation to work on or close to a party wall.
The purpose of the act is to ensure that the adjoining owners do not suffer loss or damage to their property as a direct result of the building owner’s actions. If the works undertaken cause damage to the adjoining owners’ property then the Act states it must be remedied at the expense of the building owner.
James said: “The onus is on building owners to ensure they obtain the correct permission to undertake works which could affect party walls, structures and boundary markers belonging to neighbouring properties.
“Applying to domestic and commercial owners, the Act covers works alongside an existing party wall or structure, new building astride a boundary line between properties and excavations within three to six metres of a neighbouring property.
“By obtaining Planning Permission or Building Regulation Approval does not negate the requirements placed on building owners under the Party Wall Act.”
“If you intend to undertake works, you must notify adjoining owners of your intentions. If you start work without serving notice owners may seek to stop work through an injunction. Getting the issuing of notices wrong could delay and make your project more costly.
If an adjoining owner gives consent to works contained in a notice then a building owner can start works. In consenting an adjoining owner would lose the benefit of having an award authorising the notifiable works but can appoint a surveyor at a later date to resolve a dispute if any damage arises as a result of the notifiable works.
If the adjoining owner dissents to the proposed works either an agreed surveyor who is independent and not involved in the design and specification of the works should be appointed or if the building or adjoining owner cannot agree upon an agreed surveyor then each side should appoint their own surveyors to agree the party wall award.
“Anyone considering undertaking work needs to take into account the requirements of the Party Walls Act ensuring all notices are issued in the correct manner and the award agreed before works commence. Once agreed the award is valid for 12 months and works must have commenced in that period.
“Ensuring agreements are in place will avoid delays to works providing both parties with the protection the act sets out to provide.”