Party wall problems? Here are some advices: In most cases, if the adjoining does not respond within 14 days then a deemed dispute is said to have occurred and the person carrying out the work must appoint a surveyor to act on the adjoining owners behalf. If adjoining owners provide written consent to the works as set out within the notices, then there is no dispute to resolve and no further need for party wall surveyors or, indeed, the Party Wall Act. Assuming work proceeds as detailed within the notice and no damage is caused, then no further involvement is necessary. Resolving Disputes: If adjoining owners dissent to the works (or if no response is received and a deemed dissent has arisen) then a dispute has occurred which must be resolved under the requirements of Section 10 of The Act. It is worth reiterating that the Act is one of enablement, it is not there to prevent works from taking place and it offers a route to end disputes at every stage. Where written agreement is not given, the solution the Act provides is for both parties to appoint an â€˜agreed surveyorâ€™ who will act impartially or for each owner to appoint a surveyor who in turn appoint a third surveyor. The surveyors then work together to agree the terms under which work may proceed. The surveyor(s) will review the plans, notices and structural details of the works and, after considering the impact of the works, will draw up an agreement which sets out the terms under which work can be carried out (the Award).
Party wall matters can cause a delay to the project, so this should be considered reasonably early in the design stage. Depending on the notice required you may need to inform your neighbours up to 2 months prior to your proposed start date. If the project is complex it may take some time for the surveyors to come to an agreement, or several awards may be required. The act does provide various mechanisms for non cooperation including non communication of adjoining owners and their surveyors, however there are also rights of appeal and referral to a third surveyor if necessary.
Having done everything correctly yourself and your neighbour having done nothing you would think that you could appoint your surveyor as ‘Agreed’ and save yourself a few pounds but unfortunately the Act states that the adjoining owner has a right to their own surveyor unless they agree otherwise. Surveyor’s fees are also an issue that can cause friction. Under the Act it is the surveyors that decide who pays their fees although in all normal circumstances, that will be the party planning the work which is only fair as your neighbour was quite happy with the way things were. The exception will be if the actions of your neighbour cause unnecessary expense. An example would be if they called out the surveyors to inspect some damage that was shown to pre-date the works.
These types of work all require notices to be served as required by the act, once notice has been served, if there is dissent then it is deemed there is a dispute and the Act allows for this, this would be the dispute or resolution stage. Most disputes arrives when the Adjoining Owner has worries or concerns with the proposed work or simply fails to respond in the statutory time to the building owner, for which there could be many reasons. Where a dispute arises either due to non-consent or no response then the Act lays down the steps required to resolve the dispute this is where the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner will each appoint there Surveyor this could be one each or even the same surveyor with agreement for all parties working as the Agreed Surveyor. Read more info at Party Wall Surveyor Canterbury.