The sheer volume of high-density housing that exists across London and Essex means that sharing at least one wall with a neighbour is the norm for most homeowners. Aside from a bit of light DIY and the odd bit of noise, this isn’t a problem on a day-to-day basis. However, when the building owner on one side of the wall decides to renovate or extend their property, it generally has a huge impact on the people on the other side. These works fall under the category of “party wall issues”, which we frequently assist with at Daily Move.

Luckily, in this situation the adjoining owner has certain rights, outlined by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Among other things, this includes being formally served with a Notice before the works commence, having the opportunity to consent or dissent to the proposed works and appoint a surveyor at the cost of the Building Owner to ensure their interests (and property) are protected. For all of these things, the professional expertise and advice of a surveyor is useful, recommended and in some cases, required.

Party Wall Surveys: The Myth

When we are appointed to assist with a party wall matter, our clients will sometimes ask about a “party wall survey”, but there is actually no such thing! This generally comes from a bit of confusion between three things; party wall surveyors, Schedules of Condition and Party Wall Awards. To clear things up, here’s a quick explanation of what each of these are and why they’re important to party wall matters.

Party Wall Surveyors

Party Wall Surveyors specialise in dealing with party wall matters. This includes helping Building Owners serve Notice according to the legal procedure, helping Adjoining Owners decide whether to provide their consent to a proposal, negotiating disputes and drawing up a Party Wall Award (see below). There are a lot of rules to follow when carrying out works on a party wall, so an experienced surveyor is recommended to ensure that all stakeholders understand their rights and responsibilities.

Schedules of Condition

This is the actual “survey” that most people expect when they refer to party wall surveys. A Schedule of Condition will examine any areas of the adjoining property that may be affected by the works next door, documenting their current condition using notes, sketches and photographs. These are carried out to ensure that, should any damage occur, responsibility can be appropriately attributed and neither party is wrongly accused of fault.

Party Wall Awards

Party Wall Awards are the legal document that details the agreed terms of the work. These conditions are negotiated between the surveyors of either party or, if one surveyor is representing both the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner(s), written up to fairly and impartially consider the interests of both households. The Party Wall Award will typically include the agreed working hours, access permissions and any measures that will be put in place to protect property or residents.

Hopefully these brief explanations have cleared up the misconception of “a party wall survey” and given you an idea about why it’s important to hire an experienced surveyor in these circumstances. If you have any questions about party walls or how our team at Daily Move can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.