We get a lot of enquiry’s about the act and how it is perceived to be complex to deal with, the act as most legislation has a lot of modern holes in it.
The reasons for these holes are two fold understanding the issues faced and the fact that the legislation was available only in London as Part VI of the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939 and reworded to cover the whole of England & Wales.
Some of the issues we come across are penalties for not invoking the Act, there are none included within the act, if the building owner doesn’t invoke the act by serving notice the act doesn’t apply and further more contrary to popular belief there is no retrospective ability laid out within the act unlike for example the Building Act.
So why as a Building Owner would you invoke the act if there are no penalties and there are costs involved with regard to Building Owners Surveyors, Adjoining Owners Surveyors or even if an Agreed Surveyor could be appointed the costs would still be around £750-900. The answer is two fold, rights and protection.
The act clearly allows for rights for building owners when invoking the act, these includes right of access for scaffolding etc for works pursuant of the act, rights without the act you just don’t have as well as this by invoking the act you may get a dispute by your neighbour and it may cost you money but thanks to the dialogue that could be opened with the help of a Party Wall Surveyor you could actually have access for scaffolding to complete your project via licence which could save you thousands of pounds on other costs.
So we’ve looked at rights but more important is protection and this includes protection for adjoining owners. I personally think everyone should invoke the act and dispute not to stop the work but to allow the protection that the act allows, if you where to pile your new extension and damage your neighbours property without the act there is no recourse but the expensive case of common law.
Where as the Party Wall Surveyors job is to settle disputes and this is where the act comes into its own in the same situation it would be assumed that a schedule of condition has been carried out we could then compare the before and after and see if the damage has actually been done, with no schedule of condition this would be impossible to agree with any degree of certainty if the damage was pre-existing. It may cost you a guaranteed amount of money but it could save you much more in legal fees and recourse.
Building owners, Why not follow our contact us page and call us or even better email us your plans and we can assist with the drafting of notice(s) as well as work for the Building owner or as an agreed surveyor.
Neighbours (Adjoining Owners) – Received a Party Structure notice, need advice want us to act as your behalf, call us or email us today to speak to one of our advisor’s and we can send you paperwork to work on your behalf in most cases this won’t cost you a penny, if you get on with your neighbour and you agree we can even work with the building owner as the Agreed Surveyor.
No costs for general non practice advice.