Party Wall Agreements
What is a Party Wall Agreement?
A Party Wall Agreement, “Party Wall Award” or “Award” is a legal document setting out the terms of building works or excavations covered within the “Party Wall etc. Act 1996”. This will concern the "building owner (he or she wishing to carry out the works) and their "adjoining owner(s)" (those owning neighbouring properties likely to be affected by the said building works). A Party Wall Award will be drawn up by a Party Wall Surveyor co-appointed by both parties or individual Surveyors appointed by each party.
There are free party wall agreement templates available online, but caution should be taken when using these as a detailed understanding of the Party Wall Act 1996 and a good knowledge of construction is needed to ensure the agreement produced is a valid one. A Party Wall Agreement can be deemed invalid for the smallest of inaccuracies within the Agreement / Award itself or for small inaccuracies within the initial notices served.
If the party wall agreement is not valid and an issue arises it will likely have to be resolved through court proceedings, often leading to lengthy delays in the building works and a costly legal bill. It will then usually be referred back to a specialist party wall surveyor(s) to resolve, so on the whole it usually makes sense to have a specialist surveyor review the proposed works and serve the correct notices on your behalf from the outset and where possible draw up a fair and amicable agreement between the adjoining owners.
A Party Wall Agreement typically comprises of 3 main elements
1. The Party Wall Agreement itself setting out guidance as to when and how the proposed works will be carried out.
2. A set of drawings showing the proposed works, this will make up part of the award itself.
3.Schedule of Condition of the adjoining owner’s property prepared prior to the works taking place. This is to be used as a reference for any damage caused by the building owner proposing to undertake works - protecting all parties.
The more detailed information within the agreement usually consists of (but not limited to);
Information on the parties involved and the surveyor(s) - could be up to three surveyors.
Which sections of the Party Wall Act the works are covered by.
A brief description of the proposed work.
An assurance of the contractor’s public liability insurance.
A method statement for certain works to ensure minimal damage.
Indemnity from the building owner for the adjoining owner - protecting the adjoining owner(s) in the event of any damage being caused.
Assurance from the building owner that the contractor will be aware of the terms of the party wall agreement or party wall award.
Access arrangements for surveyors and/or contractors.
A time limit for the works to begin – typically 12 months - its unfair to expect an adjoining owner to agree to works indefinitely.
Reasonable working hours for the contractors - typically 08:00 - 17:30 Monday to Friday and 09:00 - 16:00 on a Saturday for example.
Once the agreement or award has been finalised by either the “Agreed” Party Wall Surveyor, the two appointed surveyors and/or the third surveyor it will be signed and sent to both owners.