Third Party Wall Agreements
What is a Third Party Wall Agreement?
A Party Wall Agreement is a legally binding agreement that is made between a legal building owner and their neighbours. This relates to any building work that will affect either: a shared wall (a party wall), a boundary (of some description) and also any outbuildings, within England and Wales.
A Party Wall Agreement typically consists of the following items:
– The ‘award’ (or agreement) itself.
– Hours of operation. (All residential work must take place on weekdays, between 8am-5:30pm).
– The duration/timeframe of proposed building activity (commonly within a year).
– All addresses affected.
– Details of the Surveyor and their arrangements for access to the buildings.
– A schedule of condition (a record of the legal building owner’s property that is adjoined – undertaken by an independent surveyor).
– All drawings and their details of the requested building work.
– All indemnities by the legal building owner; which, is in favour of all neighbours involved.
– The Neighbour’s surveyor’s fees.
– Full details regarding the employed contractor’s public liability insurance.
In particular, a party wall usually extends across a boundary; in this case, land, that belongs to at least two legal owners. (It is not uncommon; for a party wall, to affect several neighbours.) Having said this, Party fence walls, can also be used in reference to garden walls, that have been built on the boundary line between a legal owner and their neighbour/s, without it necessarily joining to the building itself. Party structures, on the other hand, can refer to either a wall or a floor that separates either the complete building or just part of it. This is quite common, amongst, flats and maisonette properties.
It is important to remember that, in order to carry out any building work to a party wall, the owner/s of the building, will need to acquire a written Party Wall Agreement from all neighbours who will be affected. On the other hand, this can also be achieved, through an appointed surveyor, who will provide a Party Wall Agreement or Award – outlining the stipulations of how the building work should progress.
Under what circumstances do I need one?
In order to begin this process, the legal building owner will need to serve a written Party Wall Notice to all legal building owners that will be affected by the planned building activities, before any work commences. This can be done at no extra cost, by using the standard forms. Or, for a fee, a Party Wall Surveyor can complete this process for you. This will also include the Neighbour’s copy of a letter of acknowledgment to complete and then return. This means that, the building owner will be required to give at least two months’ written notice for building works that will affect a party wall and/or boundary. This then, becomes a month’s written notice for all excavation work. If you should employ an architect, they will be able to keep you informed, as to when this should happen.
Please also bear in mind, that at this stage, planning permission is not required, in order to serve a Party Wall notice, and once a notice has been issued or served, the legal building owner will have up to a year to commence all proposed building work.
According to www.realhomes.com, the types of building activities that are covered under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 can be found in the list below:
“- To cut into a wall in order to take the bearing of a beam (loft conversion), or to insert a damp proof course or flashings;
– To raise the height of the wall and/or increase the thickness of the party wall;
– To demolish and rebuild the party wall;
– To underpin the entire thickness of the party wall;
– Very minor work such as drilling to hang shelves, or chasing out to add new sockets or switches, don’t require notice.”
Should written consent from all neighbours be given, then all proposed building works can commence, without the need to employ a party wall surveyor. However; if all neighbours do not reply or if a neighbour dissents, then this will result in commissioning a party wall agreement or award. The building owner then has the following options:
– The legal building owner and neighbour/s can choose together an agreed, independent surveyor, who will act impartially for all parties involved.
– The agreed surveyor should not be the same surveyor that the legal building owner is using for their own building works.
– The Agreed Surveyor produces an “Award” which details the proposed building works and schedule of condition (including clear pictures, of all neighbour’s homes that are likely to be affected).
– A Surveyors’ fee can vary, ranging from between £150.00 and £200.00 per hour!
– A party wall award and surveyor fees usually total to the sum of £1000, approximately!
– It is also worth checking to see if the nominated architect is also qualified to act as a surveyor, as some architects are able to.
In the best interests of all parties involved, it is often a good idea, to cultivate and maintain positive, healthy relationships with neighbours first, before serving them a Party Wall notice. This can be done through a number of ways. For example, by having a friendly conversation, it can help to alleviate a neighbour’s worry and also be less intimidating.
Some people may even prefer to invite their neighbours for a cup of tea; in order to, discuss matters further. This approach provides a unique opportunity, for the building owner to present their sketches and drawings of the building owner’s proposed plans, informally. Having said this, it must also be re-iterated that a formal notice will be sent later on.
It is not uncommon, for a neighbour to ask for contact details, relating to the surveyor, and building companies, that a legal building owner, intends to use. If this should be the case, then it is only fair for the legal building owner to disclose this information, as it will allow the neighbour/s to contact them independently, for added reassurance.