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The Party Wall Act and how it affects Commercial Property

The Party Wall Act is a complex act that came into force 20 years ago, laying out the law as to what rights and responsibilities each adjoining owner in a building has.  The Party Wall Act is actually considered to be an ‘enabling act’ as it allows the owner of the building that wants to do the work to carry out work on their neighbour’s property. The Party Wall Act in some cases enables the owner of the property doing the building work to claim payment from their neighbour towards the building work. The legislation is an effective tool to fairly and equitably deal with issues that can arise during building work.

In using the Party Wall Act correctly it is often possible to build on or across the boundary, this could mean you are able to enlarge your building footprint. The Party Wall Act can allow you to place your scaffolding on the adjoining owner’s land, maximising the use of your site. The legislation does not only outline rules regarding works on the wall itself, it also outlines work such as excavation past a certain depth.

The main motive for the set-up of the Party Wall Act was of course to protect the adjoining owner, as they are the one whose property is likely to be affected or damaged. The adjoining owner must be notified of any works on the party wall, and allow them time to comment.  The maximum notice period is 2 months, which is another advantage of the Act, meaning that the adjoining owner cannot delay permitted work beyond the time periods set out within the Act. In serving notice correctly to your adjoining neighbour, it will give the owner confidence that their rights are not being ignored.

If there is to be a dispute, this can be managed by your surveyor by preparing a Party Wall Award, which should include a Schedule of Condition, setting out the rights and responsibilities of each owner. The Party Wall Award should set out the timing, method of work, and cost apportionment. In instances when the adjoining owner is reasonable and has no need for the works to be carried out, the costs will generally fall on the building owner.

It is usually advisable for the building owner not to start work until 2 weeks after the Party Wall Award is published, to allow reasonable time for the appeal period for both parties if the Award is biased or unreasonable. After this the building owner can be certain that they can commence in accordance with the Award.

Employing a Party Wall Surveyor early to advise on your design could have many potential benefits for you. Your Party Wall Surveyor could gain you additional space, assist you in sharing the costs with your neighbour, and of course guide you through the process and avoid any mistakes that could potentially delay you and cost you money. Getting notices wrong means that all that follows is invalid, which obviously can be costly with delays and legal expenses.

Anderton Gables is one of the most renowned Chartered Building Surveyors in the North of England. Anderton Gables has a strong track record of helping their clients through party wall matters and disputes. As Party Wall Surveyors, Anderton Gables is able to provide clear guidance and advice with regards to the Party Wall Act throughout the entire process.

The Chartered Building Surveyors can also advise if you have been served with notification of works that your neighbour is set to undertake, which is important to ensure your rights are being protected. In most cases the costs of services of the surveyor, where a formal Award is required, is usually borne by the neighbour who is undertaking the building work.

Anderton Gables has a vast experience in handling a wide range of both domestic and commercial party wall issues, with their senior partner bringing his previous experience in a leading national building consultancy firm, where he was the specialist dedicated Neighbourly Matter Surveyor.

For more information on Anderton Gables Party Wall Services, or any other Chartered Building Surveying services click here