You’ve finalised your renovation plan designs, you’ve sourced the right professionals for the job and you’ve found out what sort of insurance you need. But now comes the tricky part – how do you make sure your neighbours are on board with your renovation plans?
The Party Wall Act (1996) which applies throughout England and Wales makes you responsible for any damage that your renovation project may cause to your neighbour’s property.
Under this act it’s your duty to inform all adjoining owners of your renovation intentions before any work is carried out to your side of the wall.
This seems fair enough, doesn’t it? But, problems occur where your neighbour makes up their mind that they don’t want your renovation work to go ahead.
The ugly side of party wall disputes
One such instance of this type of dispute becoming rather ugly was featured in this Telegraph article. In this case, the owner of this £15 million London house decided to paint their home in red and white stripes following a dispute with neighbours which had led to her renovation plans having to be abandoned.
How party wall awards work
Once you’ve decided that the type of renovation work you’re hoping to carry out will in some way affect (either directly or indirectly) affect your neighbour’s property, you need to notify your neighbour of the proposed works.
When informing them you of your property renovation plans, you need to make clear certain important details. These include the points outlined below.
What happens where parties don’t agree?
After you’ve given your neighbour notice of the planned works, they can react to this in one of three different ways. Your neighbour may either give their written consent for the works to take place or they can dissent from the works proposed (again, in writing). A third option is that they do nothing in response.
Where no agreements can be reached between the various parties, this is where a surveyor needs to be involved. In this scenario, all parties need to agree on a surveyor to draw up an award – not a surveyor who has been appointed to supervise your renovation works.
Where parties can’t agree on a single surveyor – you’ll each need to appoint your own surveyor – who will jointly appoint a third to arbitrate if they cannot agree. All three surveyors must act impartially.
Is the party wall award final?
Once the surveyors have come to their decision, the award is final and binding – unless it’s amended by the court. Each owner then has 14 days to appeal to the county court against this award and its outcome. However, an appeal should only be made to the county court if an owner believes the surveyors’ determination is fundamentally wrong.
It should also be noted that, appealing an award can be a very expensive process – with your standard appeal costing anything upwards of £30,000!
Whichever route you end up having to go down, the best advice we here at Renovation Insurance Brokers can give you (apart from advising you against painting your home in red and white stripes!) is that you make sure to appoint a qualified renovation insurance professional from the outset to ensure you stick to the correct procedure and processes when securing your party wall award – and then taking our adequate party wall insurance.
Find out more about party wall insurance and awards
To find out whether the property that you are planning on renovating is in need of party wall insurance, please get in touch with one of our renovation insurance experts who will be very happy to help you.
Otherwise, take a look at our handy knowledge base for more information on the Party Wall Act. For a more in-depth guide to the Party Wall Act (1996) please download the YouGov Party Wall Act explanatory booklet.