Party Wall Agreement or Award?
What is a Party Wall Agreement?
A “Party Wall Agreement” is not the same as a “Party Wall Award”. An “Agreement” would normally be used where the person undertaking the work and their neighbours are both happy to consent to the building work going ahead without the need to involve party wall surveyors. If a neighbour is unwilling to agree to the building work going ahead then a “Party Wall Award” would generally be required before work could start.
As a Party Wall Agreement does not require the involvement of surveyors, it is usually a much cheaper option than a “Party Wall Award”. The agreement is legally binding between the person wishing to complete the work and their neighbours. The purpose of the agreement is to provide both parties with a balanced written framework for ensuring that the work is carried out legally, fairly and safely. The agreement also sets out an inexpensive and simple dispute resolution procedure to govern how any future disagreement between the two parties should be resolved.
What is a Party Wall Award?
Once you have served a Party Wall Notice upon your neighbour he/she has 14 days in which to respond in writing. If he/she dissents from the Party Wall Notice or does not respond to you within the 14 days then a difference is deemed to have arisen between the parties. This means that both you and your neighbour must appoint party wall surveyors under section 10 of the Party Wall Act. You can either jointly agree upon a single party wall surveyor or you can each appoint different party wall surveyors.
The party wall surveyors will prepare a fair and impartial Party Wall Award which will deal with the right to execute the party wall works, the time and manner of executing any party wall work, and any other matter that arises between the parties connected to the party wall works. In all normal circumstances the party wall surveyors will prepare a report, called a “schedule of condition”, of the neighbouring property before works start in order to protect the interests of both parties in the event of a later claim for damages.
Party Wall Costs
Usually the building owner proposing the works will pay all party wall costs associated with drawing up the party wall award if the works are solely for his/her benefit. Where a difference is deemed to have arisen, and before the party wall surveyors produce the Party Wall Award, both parties may jointly agree to settle any outstanding matters between them without the need for an Award. In this case the building owner will usually still be liable for all reasonable party wall costs incurred up to the date where the parties notify the party wall surveyors of their intentions in writing.