Saturday, 27 November 2010

Party Wall Matters – Section 6(3) – No.2

I recently attended a Pyramus & Thisbe Club lunch, at my branch. A discussion was started about Section 6 (3) of the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

It appears that the club was divided under the opinion that the Building Owner, the person(s) undertaking the works has a legal right to underpin the neighbours’ property in order to facilitate their building works. It appears that some eminent surveyors are in agreement with this.

However, I disagree with this opinion. If you actually read the clause of the Act that this refers to, it appears very clear, that both conditions of “may”, and “and if required by the adjoining owner”, must be happening for any such action to take place. So unless the adjoining owner is in agreement with the underpinning, no such works can take place, or should take place. Hence, it is not even upto the party wall surveyors to take such determinations, and certainly not without discussing it with their respective owners, and possibly involving a structural engineer or two to make sure that it is necessary. However, the final say on the possibility of it happening remains, as it should in my opinion, with the adjoining owner, under the “and if required” statement under the Act.

I have provided the extract from the Act so all can see:

“ Section 6 (3) The building owner may, and if required by the adjoining owner shall, at his own expense underpin or otherwise strengthen or safeguard the foundations of the building or structure of the adjoining owner so far as may be necessary.” Crown Copyright

I am glad I got this off my chest. However, I feel it is important to remind everyone that the comments I make in this blog are my opinion, and should not be used as a basis of any legal definition or enactment, and the reader is advised to take their own legal advice for matters relating to their own circumstances.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Party Wall Matters – the tricky stuff – No.1

It sometimes becomes very difficult to undertake my duties under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, basically because of the misunderstandings of one of the parties, or both parties, as to what my role under the Act actually is.

I currently have a situation, where the Adjoining Owner, is principally wasting my time in getting me to explain every action I take. I wonder why he bothered to appoint me to start with. I am at the point of telling him that he is impeding my duties, and that if he wishes to continue to waste my time I want him to confirm that he will pay my fees in doing so. Hopefully that will stop him from wasting my time any further.

The duties of a party wall surveyor are specifically narrow under the Act. This Adjoining Owner is now claiming that I agreed certain matters during a site visit, under some spurious notion that he recorded all the statements and had a witness to this. Talk about making life difficult. I had to refute his statements, and informed him I only make agreements or statements in writing in order to avoid any misunderstandings. Why is it some individuals (as I have been there before), think that a professional person would make such verbal agreements? I simply do not do that, it’s not part of my codes of conduct to do such things. In this particular case, he was making similar inaccurate assertions about other parties, earlier on, so I assume it has something to do with how he perceives matters.

It’s very simple really, the Act is designed for party wall surveyors to determine matters in an Award, and that this is only way either of the Owners (Building or Adjoining), can argue the content of what the surveyors determine. Thereby there are no verbal agreements recognised under the Act.

Next time... after this rant... I will explain a little more about the Party Wall procedures, and what it is all about.

Pool House, Bickley - by Bernard Humphrey-Gaskin of abp Chartered Architects, Bromley architects

Pool House, Bickley - by Bernard Humphrey-Gaskin of abp Chartered Architects, Bromley architects
Pool House, Bickley - by Bernard Humphrey-Gaskin of abp Chartered Architects ( abp architects ) - Bromley architects