Peacock Stevens have dealt with party wall matters since the above Act came into effect and before when similar legislation applied only in London. It is an important part of the statutory framework controlling construction along with the building and planning regulations.
It is primarily an enabling Act which permits owners and their contractors to carry out work on their own site which will affect adjoining properties, whilst protecting the interests of the adjoining owners. In the majority of cases the procedures set out in the Act work satisfactorily, the construction proceeds as planned and the interests of the adjoining owners are protected. More importantly, if any disturbance or damage occurs to the adjacent properties, there is a statutory arbitrational arrangement in place by virtue of the appointment of surveyors to deal with these matters without the need to seek damages or compensation in the Courts.
An example of our work is at Talbot Road Blackpool where we were appointed by PRT Corporation to deal with neighbourly matters for a hotel development. After assessing the designs, we served on the neighbours the appropriate notices required by the Act and dealt with the queries raised by the surveyors they appointed. These queries were resolved by the issue of Party Wall Awards agreed with the adjoining owners’ surveyors which allowed work to proceed as planned.
The Act itself is a relatively simple piece of legislation. It lists work which can be carried out to a party wall, such as rebuilding it and cutting into it. It also deals with excavations within 3.0m and 6.0m of a neighbour’s structure. If such work is planned, notices must be given to the adjoining owners, both leaseholders and freeholders. The adjoining owners cannot prevent the work proceeding if permitted by the Act, but they are allowed to appoint surveyors to act for them. The surveyors will examine the scheme and agree the terms and conditions affecting the work within a Party Wall Award. The usual terms cover making good damage and who bears the costs of the work and award, usually the owner carrying out the work.
The notified work should not start until the Award is issued. Attempts to avoid the Act or ignore its procedures can involve an adjoining owner referring the matter to the Courts to seek an injunction, thus causing delays and unforeseen costs for the development.
Difficulties can arise however during the preparation of the Award when the appointed surveyors examine in detail the planned work, thus causing delays. They are often the result of insufficient assessment regarding how the intended work will affect an adjoining owner’s property. The queries raised by the neighbour’s surveyor can necessitate further appraisal and changes to the proposed construction, thus delaying the commencement of the work and adding to costs generally.
Problems can also arise if the boundaries of the development are not clearly identified or assumptions made during the design stages. Again, queries raised by the neighbour’s surveyor as to the exact position of the legal boundary between the properties can cause delay to the commencement date.
The directors and staff of Peacock Stevens have many years of experience of dealing with the various issues arising from this legislation and have advised national retailers, developers and contractors throughout the UK. We will be pleased to have preliminary discussions regarding a proposed scheme to assist in avoiding the pitfalls which can occur if this legislation is not taken fully into account.
If you would like party wall advice from one of our experts, please contact us here.