I received a call from someone who said that his next door neighbour was planning to build an extension and that he was concerned about the damage that could be caused to his own house when the digging starts. I advised him that I would be happy to deal with this matter for him under the provisions of The Party Wall etc Act. The Act provides a framework for preventing and overcoming any disputes that might relate to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near buildings. He asked what the etc bit meant so I informed him that the Act doesn’t just cover party walls. It also covers carrying out building work on the boundary with a neighbouring building and excavating near a neighbouring building. In fact, one of the most common types of work that is regulated by the Act is the excavation for foundations for an extension. In the case of the neighbour’s proposed extension, I advised him that if the excavations were going to be closer than 3 metres and deeper than his foundations, the neighbour would be required to formally notify him of what he is intending to do. If the neighbour was intending to use piled foundations and if they were going to be closer than 6 metres, he would need to be notified of this too.
I advised the caller that his neighbour should inform him in writing at least 1 month in advance of the planned start date. And that as soon as he had received notification, he was entitled to exercise his rights under the Act to appoint his own Surveyor to safeguard his interests. I also advised the caller that his neighbour would be obliged to meet the reasonable costs of his (the caller’s) Surveyor. It is normal for the person who has initiated the work to be responsible for all fees as it is that person who benefits from the work.
My caller subsequently appointed me to deal with the matter for him. I made contact with his neighbour to find out exactly when the work was due to start and to obtain copies of the drawings. I also advised him that well before the work started, I would need to see an Award and a Schedule of Condition. He asked me what an Award was and I advised him that it was a very important document that would refer to matters such as working hours, insurances, any special protection that may be required to prevent damage to his neighbours property and generally on how best to minimise any inconvenience that might be caused to his neighbour and his household.
I also informed him that a Schedule of Condition is a record of the condition of his neighbour’s property before the work starts in order to enable easy identification of any damage that may possibly be caused as a result of the work. Appropriate remedial action could then be undertaken to restore his neighbour’s property to the condition it was in before the works started.
He said that he didn’t know how to prepare any of these documents so I advised him that he needed to appoint his own Surveyor who would all this for him. He asked me if I could act for him as well as acting for his neighbour. I said I could and I went on to say that it is quite normal for a single Surveyor to act for both parties. Whilst he had the right to appoint anyone he chooses to, the appointment of a single Surveyor is generally considered to be the best way to proceed, not just from a cost point of view but also because of maintaining the continuity of all the associated paperwork and administration.
Anyway, the neighbour subsequently appointed me and I became the Agreed Surveyor. The necessary paperwork was duly put in place and the works proceeded shortly afterwards. Other than one of the fence panels in the rear garden getting broken during the course of the excavation works, no damage to the neighbour’s property was caused. The broken fence panel was of course replaced. Both parties were very happy upon completion of the works and I’m pleased to report that they are still on the best of terms.