Many architects will at some stage have to deal with so-called party wall matters, which come up whenever a building owner wants to undertake works that could affect an adjoining property. As surveyors specialising in party wall matters, EK McQuade have worked on a huge variety of party wall-related projects, acting for both building owners (those carrying out the works) and adjoining owners.
A party wall is basically a wall shared by buildings or flats belonging to different owners, or a garden wall built along a boundary. If the owner of the property on one side wants to carry out works that will or could affect that wall, obviously the owner on the other side will want to know about it, and might object if there’s reason to believe the works could cause problems. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.
Examples of relevant or ‘notifiable’ work under the Act include: removing chimney breasts, rear, side and basement extensions, loft conversions, inserting beams or pad stones into a party wall, damp proof injections as well as work on floors between flats or building new garden walls. Anyone intending to carry out work of the kinds described in the Act must give the adjoining owners notice of their intentions. And that’s where a party wall surveyor comes in.
The framework set out in the Act involves notifying the owner or leaseholder of the neighbouring property and appointing surveyors to agree terms and resolve any disputes that arise from the notification. Notices must be issued at least one or two months before the planned commencement of the works, depending on the type of work to be undertaken.
The Act allows adjoining owners to have a say in what works are carried out to the respective wall and how, and to have a schedule of condition report prepared before works begin, so that it will be clear if any damage is caused by the works. If there is damage caused by the works, then the cost of repairs is payable by the neighbour undertaking the works.
As party wall surveyors, we begin the process by ensuring the implications of the proposed works are fully identified, and we go on to manage the process from start to finish. We can also help communicate party wall requirements to the contractor carrying out the works to ensure compliance. Additionally we can offer impartial technical advice on the proposed scheme, prepare the required notices, prepare and agree the schedules of condition and negotiate the party wall award.
Party wall surveyors even have a professional association, the Pyramus and Thisbe Club, which takes its name from a story by the Latin poet Ovid, about two lovers kept apart by their parents, who manage to whisper to one another through a chink in the wall. But while we’re confident that we can offer the best professional advice on party wall matters, advice on tragically doomed love affairs is sadly beyond our expertise!