A Brief Introduction About the Party Wall Agreement?
A party wall agreement is governed by the Party wall act, 1996. The purpose of this agreement is to bring the parties of the agreement to common terms as what constitutes each one’s property.
When you are trying to renovate or extend your property in England or Wales, the Party wall act requires you to agree with your neighbors who are affected by your proposed structural work. The agreement in precise gives access to the neighboring properties without upsetting their interests.
What Is a Parting Wall?
The flats, garden, semi-detached and terraced houses carry walls spanning the boundary of land owned by one or more different persons. A wall or floor or fence that separates the properties is called a party wall. Any excavations within three to six meters close to your neighbor’s property are also covered under the party wall. The depth of the new foundation should be duly considered, as well. Any work that has an impact on the walls shared by two or more different owners, then it is mandatory to give party wall notices to them.
The construction or extension may happen with your ground floor, first floor, roof, loft, basement, garden, chimneys, driveways, drains, parking. As you can visualize these are significant, areas that sway the neighbor’s property; the party wall agreement provides an award to repay them. Or it may be as simple as repairing your leaking pipe that passes through your neighbor’s place. But to do anything, you need to gain permission from the neighbor first.
Who Takes the Party Wall Agreement – People Involved
- The owner of the property, who wants to repair, reconstruct, renovate, modify or extend his property
- The adjoining or adjacent owner/owners who are the neighbors of the owner of the property. The owner and the neighbors carry a common wall or facility that becomes the subject matter of concern in a party wall agreement.
- The above two parties take a party wall agreement. Apart from the above, some people are not a party to the agreement but play a crucial role in executing a party wall contract.
- The Contractor who undertakes the proposed activity should be informed about the terms of the contract. Any violation on the part of the contractor shall bring massive troubles to the owner as ultimately the owner becomes responsible for complying with the terms of the contract.
- Surveyors are appointed by the parties to the agreement to inspect and provide reports on the current and proposed construction activity.
Purpose of the Party Wall Agreement – Why Do You Need It
- The very purpose of such an agreement is to ensure the adjoining owners are well protected from any damages caused on account of the planned activity.
- The agreement is mandatory as per the Party Wall Act, 1996. If you proceed to go without an agreement, you should be ready to pay hefty damages to your neighbor in case he brings a suit.
- In an urban area, where there will be several adjoining neighbors, the party wall agreement brings parity of treatment.
- Entering into a party wall agreement can save you from unexpected resistance and conflict from your neighbors for the proposed work.
- The party wall agreement indirectly acts as a regulator of your construction by bringing the activity within various stipulations.
Contents of the Party Wall Agreement – Inclusions
A party wall agreement typically includes the following
- The party wall award – The first important component of the agreement. It details how the proposed construction or renovation will be done by the building party.
- The addresses of the parties to the agreement. Address of the property
- Schedule of the condition – It is a record of the condition of adjoining properties before the proposed work is started. It may contain copies of building layout, plans, photographs of the properties. This is done to avoid a dispute over the areas affected by the construction.
- The plan – What is intended to be created or modified? The drawings, layout, sketches, plans of the proposed activity. The same should be understood and mutually agreed by the parties to the agreement.
- The time limit within which the intended activity will be completed. Do not expect the adjoining owner to agree to an indefinite time. It must be specific, and the contractor must work towards it. The working hours that satisfy both the contractor and your neighbor also need to be specified in the agreement.
- Contractor’s public liability insurance – This insurance is taken by the contractor to indemnify the contracted in case of any damages caused by him while undertaking the work.
- Assurance that the contractor would be aware of terms of the party wall contract.
- Indemnities safeguarding the neighbor – A relevant clause your neighbor would want to look deeper.
- What are the access arrangements made for the surveyors? Usually, there will be three surveyors for a party wall agreement. One each from the owner and adjoining owner and third own to settle in case of disputes if any. Considering the cost of the surveyor, both parties can agree to have one surveyor for the proposed construction. Ensure that the agreement mentions in detail the mode of appointment of the surveyor.
How to Draft the Party Wall Agreement – Points to Consider While Preparing the Party Wall Agreement
- Understand the requirements of the Party Wall Act. The preferences of the parties to the agreement shall be in the same spirit as what the Act validates.
- Give adequate notice to your neighbors before entering the agreement.
- If more than one neighbor is getting affected, separate notices need to be served for each. In the case of leasehold property, the owner and the tenant shall be given separate notices. The neighbor has 14 days to consent, dissent or enter into a party wall settlement.
- Describe the proposed work in detail as far as you can. Like structural details, excavations that will be carried on.
- Consider arranging a meeting between the contractor, and the neighbors, the surveyors, and the neighbors, and the surveyors and contractor. This will foster understanding as to what everyone is up to and work together in the best interest of each other.
- Proper planning of the time frame for completion can save your pocket and also alleviate your neighbor’s apprehensions.
Negotiation Strategies for a Party Wall Agreement
The best way to move a party wall contract smoothly is to have a “heads up” with the other party before serving them an official notice. Being understanding and empathizing with your neighbor’s concerns can impose confidence on your part. These will help you in trading on important terms of the agreement as your neighbor would have a feel of being well informed. This will also help in starting your works early and save your penny.
Benefits & Drawbacks of the Party Wall Agreement
The benefits of a party wall agreement are as follows
- It greatly benefits the neighbor as his interests and concerns are well-considered.
- It gives the owner the right to access the neighbor’s property legally.
- It gives the owner of the property the scope and motive to work impeccably.
- The party wall act encourages the owners and neighbors to resolve issues amicably before entering into the contract.
The drawbacks are
- The owner is always seated on a time bomb that can explode at any time.
- The act never grants an injunction of work; it provides the only removal of work. The neighbor is provided with sufficient indemnity and compensation.
- The conversations, discussions, negotiations, and the time stipulations proposed by the Act can burn the pocket of the owner by dragging the time of starting the work.
What Happens in Case of Violation of Party Wall Agreement?
Violation of agreement can happen by acting beyond the scope and performance of the contract. It can be a delay in the completion of work, carrying construction activities beyond the working hours specified in the contract, extending the area of activity beyond what is agreed, causing major damages to the neighbor’s property, etc.
If your neighbors can prove that there is a violation of clauses of party wall agreement, they may seek compensation and also require removal of work. The local authorities may take enforcement action if the violation is considered to be an offense. Educating the contractor about the terms of the party wall contract is an elementary step to avoid violation.
The party wall agreement establishes a neighborhood’s right in every possible way. Also, it gives a sense of permitted development to the owner of the property. Complying with the act can be cumbersome; however, it does not let your head down by bringing an injunction to work. Thus, a party wall agreement helps in having a healthy and happy relationship with your neighbors.
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