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Further Awards and The Party Wall Act

Sunday, 9th August 2020 | by: Justin Burns

If you’re familiar with party wall procedures you’ll know that the award is the document produced by the surveyor(s) to resolve the dispute which arose when an adjoining owner dissented to the notice(s) but that’s not always the end of the story.

The 6th Edition of the RICS template award included a clause stating that the surveyors reserved the right to make and serve any further award or awards that may be necessary ‘as provided in the Act’ but realising that the Act included no such specific provision it’s been removed from the current 7th edition. However, the Act does state that the surveyor(s) may settle any matter which is in dispute between the parties by award and places no limit on the number of awards served. So why might a further award be required?

Further awards tend to fall in to 2 categories; additional notifiable work or defined disputes either during or following the work.

Clients are well known for making changes once the builders are on site and they can see the project evolving. Sometimes those changes fall within the scope of the Act. Typically, both parties’ surveyors will be authorised to serve and receive notices on behalf of their owners and that streamlines the process for dealing with additional works. Once notice has been served the surveyors will produce and serve a further award (often referred to as an ‘Addendum Award’) authorising those works and setting out any additional obligations. The further award will reference the principle award to avoid repeating much of its contents and that will generally allow it to be a much shorter document, typically 2 to 3 pages. Unless the new works are in a completely different part of the property or are particularly complex the surveyors should not need to visit site again as the original schedule of condition will suffice. Further fees will arise but should be much lower than for the principle award.

Where a further award is required to deal with a dispute, that can be a much more complicated and time consuming affair. Further disputes should only arise in respect of matters that could not have been envisaged at the time the principle award was served e.g. the cause of damage claimed by an adjoining owner or the cost of making it good. Surveyors should only become involved again If the parties have tried and failed to resolve the matter themselves.

Finally, on bigger projects it may be judicious for the surveyors to agree and serve awards for different phases of the work. It may be that the demolition phase is covered by the Act because it exposes a party wall to the elements or it’s necessary to grub out the existing foundations by going deeper than those to an adjoining structure but full details of the later works are not available at that time. The surveyor(s) would agree and serve a principle award dealing with the demolition and including the general clauses such as those relating to working hours, the building owners obligation to compensate etc. and deal with the new works in a later award or awards.

If you’re planning works covered by the Act and would like some free advice do not hesitate to call us on 020 8546 7211 or send us an email.