A Party Wall Award is a legally binding document that outlines the rights and responsibilities of property owners when carrying out construction work near or on a shared wall, boundary, or structure. While it's advisable to seek professional guidance from a Party Wall Surveyor, it is possible to prepare your own Party Wall Award, provided you have a solid understanding of the Party Wall Act 1996 and are confident in your legal and technical abilities. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps involved in preparing your own Party Wall Award, including understanding the Act, creating the document, and ensuring compliance.
Understanding the Party Wall Act 1996:
Before you can prepare a Party Wall Award, it's essential to have a thorough understanding of the Party Wall Act 1996. This legislation governs the rights and obligations of property owners when undertaking construction work that may affect neighboring properties. Key provisions of the Act include:
Notification: Property owners planning construction work must serve formal notice to their neighbors affected by the work. This notice triggers the Party Wall process.
Party Wall Surveyor: The Act allows each party to appoint their own surveyor or agree on a single surveyor to prepare and serve the Party Wall Award. The surveyor(s) act impartially to resolve disputes and ensure the award is fair and reasonable.
The Award: The Party Wall Award is a legally binding document that outlines the specific work to be carried out, access arrangements, and any additional safeguards required to protect the interests of both parties.
Assessing Your Capability:
Preparing a Party Wall Award can be complex, involving legal, technical, and procedural aspects. Here are some factors to consider before deciding to create your own:
Knowledge of the Act: Do you have a good understanding of the Party Wall Act 1996, its regulations, and legal requirements?
Technical Expertise: Are you familiar with construction methods, engineering principles, and the potential impact of your work on neighboring properties?
Legal Understanding: Can you draft a legally sound document that adheres to the Act's requirements and adequately protects the interests of all parties involved?
Neighboring Relationships: Consider your relationship with your neighbors. Can you maintain a cooperative and amicable dialogue throughout the process?
Time and Resources: Preparing a Party Wall Award can be time-consuming. Do you have the necessary time and resources to invest in the process?
Preparing the Party Wall Notice:
The first step in preparing your own Party Wall Award is to serve the appropriate Party Wall Notice to your neighbors. This notice should include:
Your name and address.
A clear description of the proposed work.
The start date of the work (if known).
A statement indicating that the notice is served under the Party Wall Act 1996.
A request for your neighbor's written consent to the proposed work, where applicable.
Ensure that you serve this notice in accordance with the Act's statutory requirements, including timelines and delivery methods. Keep copies of all notices and correspondence for your records.
Responding to Neighbor's Concerns:
Once your neighbors receive the Party Wall Notice, they have the option to consent, dissent, or do nothing. If they consent, the process becomes relatively straightforward. However, if they dissent or do nothing, the Party Wall Act requires the appointment of Party Wall Surveyors.
Creating the Party Wall Award:
To prepare your own Party Wall Award, follow these steps:
Consult the Act: Review the Party Wall Act 1996 and relevant regulations to ensure you understand all legal requirements.
Gather Information: Collect all relevant information about the proposed construction work, including plans, specifications, and any engineering reports.
Draft the Award: Carefully draft the Party Wall Award, including details of the work, access arrangements, and any necessary safeguards.
Seek Legal Advice: Consider consulting a solicitor or legal expert to review your draft for compliance with the law and to ensure it is legally sound.
Serve the Award: Serve the Party Wall Award to all affected parties, including your neighbors and their appointed surveyors, if applicable.
Compliance and Records:
Ensure that all parties comply with the terms of the Party Wall Award throughout the construction process. Keep detailed records of all communication, inspections, and work carried out. This documentation will be crucial in case of any disputes or legal issues that may arise.
While it is possible to prepare your own Party Wall Award, it is a complex and legally binding document that requires a deep understanding of the Party Wall Act 1996 and the ability to navigate potential disputes. It's advisable to consult with a Party Wall Surveyor or legal expert to ensure that your interests, as well as those of your neighbors, are adequately protected throughout the construction process. Proper preparation and adherence to legal requirements will help you avoid potential conflicts and costly legal issues down the road.