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What Does A Party Wall Surveyor Do?

In the early 1990s, Parliament recognised the growing concern surrounding neighbourly boundary disputes and decided to take action. This concern led to the formulation of the Party Wall Act, a piece of legislation designed to prevent disputes and ensure a structured approach to building works that affect party walls or party structures. The Act grants Building Owners certain rights when it comes to construction on their land, but with these rights come specific responsibilities toward Adjoining Owners affected by the works. This is where a Party Wall Surveyor steps in to play a crucial role in maintaining harmony between neighbours during construction. 

The Right of a Building Owner

Under the Party Wall Act, a Building Owner or developer is granted absolute rights to carry out works on their land that may affect a party wall or party structure. These rights include:

Cutting into a Party Structure – The building owner can cut into a party wall or structure.

Cutting Projections Off – They can cut projections off from the party structure.

Underpinning – The building owner has the right to underpin the party wall or structure.

Injecting – They can inject the party wall or structure.

Excavations – For new independent buildings, the building owner can undertake excavations within three or six metres of a structure on adjoining land, depending on the nature of the works.

However, exercising these rights comes with responsibilities to all owners affected by the works. It’s essential to ensure that these works are carried out in a manner that causes no unnecessary inconvenience to neighbours.

The Role of a Party Wall Surveyor

Party wall surveyors play a pivotal role in ensuring that the rights of building owners are exercised responsibly and that the interests of adjoining owners are protected. Here’s what they do.

Acting for Building Owners

When representing building owners, Party Wall Surveyors typically handle the following tasks:

Identifying Adjoining Owners 

This involves conducting Land Registry searches, coordinating with solicitors, and reaching out to owners of adjoining properties.

Serving Party Wall Notices 

Party Wall Surveyors prepare and serve the necessary Party Wall notices to Adjoining Owners, outlining the proposed works.

Schedules of Condition 

They create Schedules of Condition for Adjoining Owners’ premises/land that are relevant to the party wall or excavation works. These records help assess any damage caused by the construction.

Liaising with Building Owners 

Party Wall Surveyors collaborate with building owners, including architects and structural engineers, to produce the required drawing for Party Wall notices and Party Wall Awards.

Drafting Party Wall Awards

They draft Party Wall Awards, agreeing on their precise terms and contents with the Surveyors representing adjoining owners. Supplementary Party Wall Awards may be necessary in some cases. 

Defects and Making Good

Party Wall Surveyors confirm any necessary remediation of deflect to adjoining properties/land resulting from the works under the Act.

Acting for Adjoining Owners

When representing Adjoining Owners, Party Wall Surveyors have different responsibilities.

Reviewing Party Wall Notices – They examine the Party Wall notice submitted by the building owner or their surveyor to ensure their legal validity.

Liaising with the building owner’s Surveyor – Party Wall Surveyors communicate with the building owner’s surveyor, visit the adjoining property, and agree on the Schedule of Condition.

Negotiating Party Wall Awards – They negotiate the terms and contents of the Party Wall Award, keeping the provisions of the Act in mind.

Monitoring the Works – Party Wall Surveyors periodically monitor the progress of the works during the building contract, in accordance with the Party Wall Award.

Inspecting and Confirming – After the completion of all works under the Act, they inspect the Schedule of Condition and agree on the defects that need to be remedied.

Ensuring Compliance – Party Wall Surveyors work with the property owner’s surveyor to ensure that the building owner complies with all obligations outlined in the Party Wall Award.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Party Wall Surveyors are instrumental in maintaining peace and order in neighbourly relationships during construction projects. Their impartiality, expertise in the Party Wall Act, and attention to detail are essential in ensuring that the rights and responsibilities of both building owners and adjoining owners are upheld, ultimately preventing and resolving disputes in a fair and reasonable manner. The Party Wall Act has indeed proven to be a valuable tool in preventing boundary disputes and promoting harmonious construction practices.