If a neighbour does not consent to a notice a dispute is deemed to arise. An Award is a legal document prepared by surveyors to resolve such a dispute. It contains legal preambles and recites rights and obligations and list precautions and provisions that the surveyors consider necessary.
With a Party Wall Award the Party Wall surveyor(s) will sometimes make a additional inspection at the end to ensure the works are properly finished and no damage has been caused. With an Agreement further inspections would only be made if requested, however a Final inspection can always be 'bolted-on' to a Party Wall Agreement if required.
Some surveyors advise people who have receive notices for simple works to dissent, have a dispute, and then appoint that surveyor to resolve the dispute by an Award. It should be remembered that Party Wall Surveyors earn more fees from disputes than from agreements.
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A Party Wall Award is not necessary for both parties to benefit from the rights and protection given by the Act. All that is necessary is the service of a notice.
In the case of minor domestic works (i.e. Most loft conversions, internal alterations and simple rear extensions or excavation that is remote or very isolated) an Award does not provide additional protection. In these cases we believe that it is preferable for a neighbour who has received a notice to consent. This is what the Government recommend in their Advisory Document
(Section 12). It is a myth that a Party Wall Award is necessary for an Adjoining Owner to have the protection given by the Act.
Where complex works are involved,
particularly works including underpinning a Party Wall or deep adjacent excavation, there is a significant risk to adjoining property and in these cases, we believe that it is in the best interests of Adjoining Owners to dissent to notices and appoint a Party Wall Surveyor who will be able to bring expert knowledge to the situation.
Watson Woods Partnership
*We use a DJI Mavic Air drone to undertake surveys of parts of buildings that are not easily accessible by conventional means .
If you have received a notice for minor work and your neighbour demonstrates to you that the work will be properly designed and executed and subject to the Building Regulations you should consider consenting subject to a prior Schedule of Condition* of your property. This is really the most important element as it is the tool which is used to judge if any damage has been caused.
By consenting to a notice you will still have the protection given by the Party Wall Act.
If following an agreement any dispute subsequently arises in relation to the works then the Adjoining Owner can still formally appoint a surveyor and that surveyor or two surveyors can still resolve the matter by a Party Wall Award so by consenting from the start neighbours are not ‘signing away their rights’
This is the way the Party Wall Act was designed to work - to resolve a real dispute if one should arise.