The Benefits of Works under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996
As discussed in our previous blog, there are significant risks to carrying out works under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, without following the necessary procedures. An alternative to avoid these risks, and the potential project delays which can occur is to design the proposed works in a way that does not include any notifiable works.
However, there are substantial benefits of carrying out works by following ‘The Act’:
When the proposal involves erecting a new wall along the boundary line of the site (whether this is a free-standing boundary wall, or part of a building/extension) The Act will allow the foundations of the wall to project beyond the wall and boundary, into the neighbouring site.
The Act contains very powerful access rights. Where works reasonable require access onto the neighbouring property this can be requested. The neighbour cannot refuse this access, and entry can be made by force if needed (when accompanied by the Police). Access can also include placing scaffolding on the neighbours property to allow the relevant construction work.
Altering & Repairing Existing Party Walls/Structures
There may be parts of an adjoining structure overhanging the boundary line, preventing new construction. The Act allows a developing owner to remove these projecting/overhanging parts to enable the new construction to be erected.
Other existing parts may no longer be required by one owner, for example, a chimney breast which is restricting the use of a room, or a wall which is higher than now required. This can be removed using The Act.
‘Raising’ a Party Wall is often used, and allows an owner to extend the property upwards (and downwards) to add additional storeys to a building.
The Act also allows new walls to be built and attached to a Party Wall.
Depending on who will benefit from the works, or who is responsible for maintaining a shared part of a property, The Act can be used to apportion costs appropriately. Therefore the owner instigating the works may not have to pay the full costs, and will not need to enter into protracted litigation to recover the Adjoining Owners share. These costs can be recovered swiftly in the Magistrates Court if the owner does not pay when requested.
Security of Expenses
The owners involved can require money to be held in an ‘escrow’ type account, and only released when authorised by both owners, or by the appointed surveyors.
These rights are provided by following The Act, and would otherwise only be possible by agreement between the neighbouring owners, which might not be possible, or may only be agreed with financial incentive. There are of course restrictions and obligations for making use of these rights, the first and most important of which is the requirement to serve notice on the affected Adjoining Owner(s). If this results in a dispute (or deemed dispute due to lack of consent), the appointment of Party Wall Surveyors to produce a Party Wall Award will be required.
It is also worth noting that although a Party Wall Award may restrict how and when the works are executed, this control is only limited to the notifiable work, and not the wider building project.
If you would like to discuss the Party Wall implications of your project, speak with an AG Party Wall Expert.