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Case Study – Party Wall Award as Agreed Surveyor

Thursday, 22nd September 2011 | by: Peter Barry

Appointing Owner: Owner of a mid-terraced house in Highbury, London N1

Proposed work: Side return extension

Notice date: 4th February 2011

Background:

We were approached by an architect to provide a fee proposal for his client who was planning to add a modern Garden Room alongside the existing back addition of his mid-terrace property. The house was located in one of the early Victorian squares to the east of Upper Street in Islington, London N1.

Upon acceptance of our proposal I obtained a letter from the Building Owner authorising me to serve the necessary notices on his behalf and to act as his surveyor if that became necessary.

Notices:

The Adjoining Owner to the side where the extension was to be constructed had themselves built a rear extension in recent years which included a party wall i.e. a wall built astride the boundary. Being a party wall it was available for the Building Owner’s use (see notes on Section 11(11) of the Act below).

The proposal was to span beams between the party wall and the flank wall to the existing back addition which would support a glass roof, to put in a strip foundation across the rear and construct sliding glass doors above it (see plan below).

33WiltonSquare
Excavating for new foundations immediately alongside an adjoining period property would normally be notifiable under Section 6(1) of the Act but as the extension to the adjoining property was a modern build no notice was required.

Cutting pockets in a party wall to insert steel beams is covered under Section 2(2)(f) of the Act.

A Party Structure Notice was therefore served on 4th February 2011. The statutory notice period for Section 2 works is 2 months although if an Adjoining Owner intends to consent they should do that within 14 days as if they do not reply within that period they are deemed to have dissented under the Act.

Response to Notice

Within a week of the notice being served I received a call from the Adjoining Owner who wished to discuss some of his concerns. Having talked the issues through he confirmed that he wished to dissent to the notices and appoint me as the ‘Agreed’ surveyor. This was confirmed in writing on 15th February 2011. As Agreed Surveyor it would be my job to impartially regulate matters affecting the two Owners.

Schedule of Condition

Although not mentioned in the Act it is standard procedure for the appointed surveyor(s) to record a schedule of the condition covering the Adjoining Owner’s property before the works commence.

I therefore visited the Adjoining Owner’s property on 25th February 2011 and recorded the condition of those parts that were at risk of being affected by the works. With works of this type I would typically cover an area extending at least 3 metres from the pockets that are to be cut.

A written schedule should always be taken and a set of photographs to support.  A typical schedule will be set out as follows:

Element Description Condition Photographs
Ceiling Of modern plasterboard type – skimmed and emulsioned. No relevant defects 1-5

The Award

All surveyors work from template Awards that are produced by the relevant organisations and adapted to suit the particular situation. For a fairly straightforward job such as this only a few additional clauses are required.

Vibration was the main concern so I safeguarded against that by requesting that no percussive type tools (such as Kangos) were used for cutting out the pockets.

Section 11(11)

In situations such as this where an Owner makes use of a party wall that was built at the sole expense of their neighbour Section 11(11) of the Act states that they should pay a fair proportion of the building costs based on current rates.

I therefore used measured rates to calculate the current cost of building the section of the wall that was to be enclosed and entered a clause in to the Award requesting that the Building Owner pay the Adjoining Owner 50% of that figure when the enclosure took place. The figure came to approximately £1,350.

The Awards were completed and served on the Owners in early March 2011 although the works did not commence for a further couple of months.