What you need to know about Party Wall
How long does a Party Wall Award last?
Do you want to build a new kitchen extension, convert the loft or do additional building work to your property? If the answer is yes, you will need the services of a party wall surveyor to carry out a site survey, which may result in the need for a Party Wall Agreement before commencing any of this work. Once you have your Party Wall Award in writing, which has been agreed by your neighbour or neighbours, then you are all set to go ahead with the planned work. But one point that many homeowners are still unsure about is how long this party wall award will last. Below we explore both what a party wall and party wall award are, and we also explain how long a party wall award usually lasts.
What is a party wall?
So, let’s start by exploring exactly what the party wall is and how this affects you. As the name suggests, the party wall refers to the division of two or more properties. This may mean the boundary with another building, such as a neighbouring property, or it may mean an upstairs neighbour in a house of multiple occupancy (HMO). So, it can refer to a physical wall, a fence or partition, or even an invisible boundary line.
What is a Party Wall Award?
This then leads us onto the Party Wall Award. The simplest explanation is that a Party Wall Award or Agreement, as it is sometimes known, is the end result of conducting a party wall assessment. This is the piece of paper that you need which states that you are allowed to carry out your intended work. This means that you, as the building owner, have the legal right to carry on with the proposed works on your property.
What is important to note is that the Party Wall Award will state the manner of your proposed works in writing and the time in which it is to be completed. Alongside this is the assurance that all works will be carried out with minimal disruption to your neighbour and the neighbouring property. Part of the Party Wall Award will also include what is known as the Schedule of Condition Report, which will help to protect you against any future disputes regarding the building work. The Party Wall Award will also feature relevant photographs of the neighbouring property before the work is carried out, plus any plans or drawings of the proposed work.
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How long is a Party Wall Award valid for?
This should be a simple question to answer, as you have 12 months to complete your proposed works, but there is some confusion as to when this time period begins. Some believe that the 12 month time period begins when you issue or serve your Party Wall Notice, as the written document alerts your neighbours to the fact that you wish to carry out building work. However, the second view is that as the owner of the property, you have 12 months to start your proposed and agreed works from the date that you receive your Party Wall Award. It is widely viewed that this second view is correct.
The Party Wall Award gives you the legal go-ahead to begin the planned work. All or any disputes will have been resolved and you therefore know that you have 12 months to begin that work.
What happens if work is delayed?
So, what happens if you cannot carry out building work once the Party Wall Award has been granted? Well, you don’t need to start building work straight away, as you have up to 12 months to commence the work. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to have completed the work within 12 months of the award, but rather that you have begun the building work.
If you need to delay work until later on in the year, when there is less chance of rain and the days are longer, then this isn’t a problem. Delays to the building work are acceptable, as long as the work is commenced within the 12 month time period.
If there are unseen delays and your time to commence work seems to be slowly running out, then as long as you begin work, you will be following the rules. This may be something as simple as excavating land in preparation of the build.
Commencing building work after the 12 months
So, what happens if there are unforeseen delays that mean that you are unable to commence work in the allocated 12 month period? Well, the sad news is that you will have to obtain a new Party Wall Award. This is because this is a legal document that states when the work will commence, including working hours. Once you go past that set time period, the document is no longer valid, so you will need to start the entire process again. This is why it is important that you put plans in place to commence work once you have been awarded the Party Wall Award.
The Party Wall Agreement during a house sale
This is a grey area and much confusion can arise when it comes to the selling of a home that has just acquired a Party Wall Award for planned works. The general consensus is that the Award has been granted to the property and any adjoining property, so it will still be valid for the new owners.
The protection that a Party Wall Award gives you
When you have a Party Wall Agreement in place, you have the legal protection and backing to carry out work that affects the neighbouring property. This means that if anything does go wrong, and if problems occur, you will have legal support should a dispute occur between you and your neighbours.
Every Party Wall Award is different
What is important to note is that every Party Wall Award is different. Each one is personalised to your specific project, the size of the build, the location and the working hours of the building team. Once you have been given your Party Wall Award, it is essential that you have the plans in place to commence your build project, so that you can begin work in the allocated 12 month period.
Here at AC Design Solutions, we are a team of friendly and experienced party wall surveyors in London and the surrounding areas. Our professional party wall services will enable you to get on with that loft conversion, garage extension or other work on your property. To learn more about how we can help you, please do fill out our online form to receive a free no-obligation personalised quote, or give us a call today.