The Party Wall Process
Recently on a couple of projects, the Party Wall Act has reared its head. This has caused a number of obstacles for our clients and more importantly to progress on site.
One project in particular has been delayed from starting on site by 9 months.
However, this project highlights how the Party Wall Act can be either; straight forward and painless; or time consuming and frustrating.
There were 3 adjoining owners; Neighbours 1 & 2 on one side. Neighbour 3 on the other. Neighbours 1 & 2 appointed their own surveyor and the building owner appointed his own. The Surveyors served the Notices, had meetings, and prepared Schedules of Condition. The Awards were then signed and issued. The Party Wall process was complete. This was a simple ‘box-ticking’ exercise and relatively painless. All the architectural and structural drawings were complete. The statutory approvals were in place. And all this was prior to the Notices being issued. If it hadn’t been for the issues that occurred with Neighbour 3, work on site could have begun.
It should be said that the works related to the side of Neighbour 3 were significantly more complicated than those on the other side. Also that Neighbour 3 was not a ‘neighbour from hell’; they duly appointed their own surveyor without delay.
Due to the more complicated nature of the works on this side the Adjoining Owner’s surveyor appointed a checking engineer to review the structural details. The checking engineer then came back with some queries which is where the delays began. The main bulk of the requested information related to a temporary works package that had not been provided. This structural engineer in particular was not able to provide this additional package of information, so a temporary works engineer had to be appointed.
The temporary works engineer produced a scheme which was subsequently reviewed by the checking engineer, who raised a few queries. Some revisions were required and so this was passed back. All the while both engineers had to be in communication to make sure that their proposed schemes coordinated and worked with each other. The Party Wall surveyors also had to review the revised schemes and discuss their impact in relation to the Act and whether they were acceptable. Subsequently, the surveyors then requested their own revisions to the proposals… and so it continues!
Now, no one party is necessarily responsible for these delays; some of the circumstances were unforeseen and now it is a machine of many (slow moving) parts.
As with all projects, there are a few things that could be done to minimise the delay. Or to at least inform the client of a more feasible start date.
Make sure all planning and building regulation approvals are in place. As part of a Full Plans Building Control Application all drawings and details will be checked, including the structural proposals and this may help highlight any potential issues early on.
As well as providing you with the relevant drawings, appointing an Architect at an early stage will help you navigate the process. They may also be able to advise you on the information the Party Wall Surveyors are likely to require, and help you organise this and achieve the Statutory Approvals. Feel free to contact us at UNIT ONE ARCHITECTS to see how we can help you with your project.
Structural Engineers Drawings
Similar to an Architect the earlier an Engineer is appointed the better it will be for your organisation and project programming. The engineer should be aware of what will be required by the Party Wall Surveyors as well as being able to feed into the Architects’ design from an early stage, identifying any potential issues.
Party Wall Surveyors
The surveyors will of course be able to advise you about the Act and guide you through the process. They will have a good idea of required information and also be able to advise your other appointed consultants of any additional details that may be required. As with the other consultants a Party Wall Surveyor should be appointed as early as possible. There are various Notice periods that need to be served prior to any work starting on site, and some have a 2 month notice period.
The Party Wall process can be a complicated procedure. That’s why our Surveyor friends at Forty5 Degrees, have created this handy guide to help you understand the process.
If you are aware of what information is required, then you will be able to appoint the necessary consultants and programme for it. This will stop you from being left frustrated and waiting for it to be produced when you are expecting to be on site building!
The first example highlights how straight forward it can be, if you have all of your ducks in a row. Whilst the second example shows how drawn out it can become if all the required information is not present.
Planning and organisation is the key to getting over the Party Wall. Albeit, some will take longer to climb than others.