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Party Wall Act: A reminder for Surveyors

February 2017 - Issue 90

If you are planning work that will affect a neighbour’s party wall structure or boundary, it is important to follow the Party Wall Act 1996. The Act provides a framework to facilitate building work near a neighbouring property.

It is recommended to appoint a specialist party wall surveyor before work commences to ensure that appropriate notices are served and the correct procedure is followed. In order to achieve a binding agreement (also known as the final award), it is vital that this is followed else the award is invalid. As a result, there will be no protection and this will ultimately delay the building work.

The preferred method is to appoint the same surveyor as their job is to follow the law set out in the Act, not to act as agent for a party. This route is far less expensive than appointing your own surveyor. Once appointed, you cannot replace the surveyor except in very limited circumstances. Additionally, their opinions can be binding so it is important to research into the appointment of the expert carefully.

Once an award is made, there is limited time within which you can appeal the final decision. Unless appealed, the award will be conclusive. Surveyors should not act outside the powers given to them.  Therefore, if a surveyor does exceed their powers, then in this instance there will be no limitation on time to challenge the award. You can only really overturn an award if a surveyor has exceeded their powers and jurisdiction under the Act. Judges will not intervene in every challenge brought so that the legislation is not undermined.

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