Party Wall Agreements

Agreements

A written agreement between adjoining property owners, or a Party Wall Agreement, is a document normally produced jointly by two or more owners. Any time building or structurally related work covered by the Act is done to a jointly shared wall or wall boundary, or any time significant excavation is do be carried out near a jointly shared wall or boundary, a Party Wall Agreement will be necessary before work starts. If no such agreement is in place the Act requires Surveyors to be appointed and an Award to be prepared and served on the Owners.

Obviously, the object for all concerned property owners should be to minimise the total cost and disruption resulting from the work so it behoves all parties to come to an agreement as quickly and painlessly as possible. If fairly minor building work is all that is planned, or where all neighbours involved are very amendable to the changes or perhaps even are helping to share the construction costs, it may be possible for all parties to simply agree to the project proposals in writing and avoid the cost of hiring one or more professional party wall surveyors. It is more often a better idea to hire a professional surveyor if you have any doubts at all in your mind about a third party expressing concerns or complaints about your project or even if you are dealing with a very large scale project with a sizable investment risk. To foster potential cooperation, make it known to your neighbours that the initiating owner/builder will indemnify the other property owners against damage risk resulting from the project. If you cannot come to a private agreement and the matter proceeds to a formal Award written by party wall surveyors, this will be required anyway so you have nothing to lose.

If an Award is served upon you and you consider it not to have been properly made you have a legal right to appeal it in the County Court but must do so within 14 days, although, normally having been prepared by practicing Surveyors, Awards are rarely appealed in such a manner and you may end up paying the legal costs if your appeal is found by the court to be unfounded. Both sides should be aware of the fact that it is usually the party proposing the work to the party wall that is responsible for paying for all of the fees of the appointed surveyors of all parties. If you are the building owner initiating action, you should allow for the likely costs of Party Wall matters within your fee budget for your proposed project.