An explanatory guide to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996
11. What if I cannot reach an agreement with the Adjoining Owners on the work to be done to the party wall?
The best way of settling any point of difference is by friendly discussion with your neighbour. Agreements must always be put in writing.
If you cannot reach agreement with the Adjoining Owners, the next best thing is to agree with them on appointing what the Act calls an “Agreed Surveyor” to draw up an “Award”. The Agreed Surveyor should NOT be the same person that you intend to employ or have already engaged to supervise your building work — see paragraph 12.
Alternatively, each owner can appoint a surveyor to draw up the award together. The two appointed surveyors will select a third surveyor (who would be called in only if the two appointed surveyors cannot agree).
In all cases, surveyors appointed under the dispute resolution procedure of the Act must consider the interests and rights of both owners and draw up an award impartially.
Their duty is to resolve matters in dispute in a fair and practical way.
Where separate surveyors are appointed by each owner, the surveyors must liaise with their appointing owners and put forward the respective owners’ preferred outcome. However, the surveyors do not act as advocates for the respective owners. They must always act within their statutory jurisdiction and jointly prepare a fair and impartial award.
12. Who can I appoint as a surveyor in the event of a dispute?
The term "surveyor" is defined in the Act as any person who is not a party to the matter. This means that you can appoint almost anyone you like to act in this capacity. However, the surveyor should have a good knowledge of construction and of administering the Act.
Some people are obviously more suitable than others. You may wish to look for a qualified building professional with some experience or knowledge of party wall matters ... or simply contact us at Forrester&Co.
You and your neighbour should not choose the person you have engaged to supervise the building works to be the “Agreed Surveyor”. It is difficult to be the person responsible for ensuring the completion of the work at the same time as giving full regard to the rights of the neighbours. Your neighbour may also be less inclined to agree to jointly appoint a person to resolve a dispute if that person is already engaged by you in another capacity.
13. What does the surveyor do?
The surveyor (or surveyors) will prepare an "award" (also known as a "party wall award"). This is a document which:
• sets out the work that will be carried out
• says when and how the work is to be carried out (for example, not at weekends if the buildings are domestic properties)
• specifies any additional work required (for example necessary protection to prevent damage)
• often contains a record of the condition of the adjoining property before the work begins (so that any damage to the adjoining land or buildings can be properly attributed and made good)
• allows access for the surveyor(s) to inspect the works while they’re going on (to see that they are in accordance with the award).
It is a good idea to keep a copy of the award with your property deeds when the works are completed.