When selecting the procurement route for a project, Party Wall Matters are not usually a driving factor. They can however have a significant impact on development and should be considered as early as possible.
With a Design & Build Project, much of the design tends to be left to the contractor. This should (in theory) reduce the overall project duration, compared to a traditional project, as the detailed design can be carried out during the works.
If parts of the works require Notice under the Party Wall etc. Act, sufficient design information will be needed, firstly to determine whether these are indeed notifiable, and to provide suitable detail to the neighbouring owners receiving a notice. The notices must be served at least 1 month or 2 months (depending on works) prior to the notified works commencing. If a neighbouring owner does not consent to a notice Party Wall Surveyors will then become appointed. It could then take much longer than the notice period for the surveyors to negotiate and agree an Award (especially if the works are complex).
The original expected time saving might in-fact result in a delay to the works.
Any notice under the Party Wall etc. Act must be served by the ‘Building Owner’, or an agent who has been given suitable authority. It is highly unlikely that the contractor has been given such authority to prepare and serve notices. Therefore the Building Owner’s/Employer’s consultant team (or Employers Agent) will need to keep a close eye on the developing design and look out for notifiable works.
If the contractor proceeded with notifiable works, without following the statutory procedures of the Act, a neighbouring owner could obtain an injunction halting the works.
What can be done?
We can produce guidance for the design team and specialist Neighbourly Matters consultant services to highlight the potential issues arising from the works. Our Party Wall experts will identify design constraints to avoid notifiable works (and prevent delays), and give direction on the benefits of invoking the Act to carry out relevant parts of the works, particularly with regards to access issues.