Did your little one recently ask you to give him his separate room? Or are you planning to convert your room into a playroom? Whatever the situation is, when it comes to adding extra space to your house, all the fingers point in one direction. Yes, you guessed that right! I am talking about converting a loft. But it might not be as easy as it looks.
Suppose you plan to convert loft on a property that shares a wall or boundary with another property. In that case, you must obtain a party wall agreement to ensure that you comply with the law and protect the interests of both parties.
This guide will provide a detailed overview of party wall agreements for loft conversion, including what they are, when you need a party wall agreement, and how to obtain them.
What Is a Party Wall Agreement?
The Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner of a shared wall or boundary must enter into a legally binding Party Wall Agreement for loft conversion that spells out each party’s rights and obligations when carrying out loft conversion-related work.
Loft conversions frequently entail alterations to the party wall or another physical boundary separating the two properties, which may jeopardise the wall’s stability or irritate the neighbouring owner.
Therefore, having a Party Wall Agreement in place is essential to ensuring that the work is completed safely, with minimal disruption to the Adjoining Owner, and by all relevant laws and regulations.
Step1: Determine whether a Party Wall Agreement is needed
Any construction project impacting a shared boundary or party wall between two properties must start by determining whether a party wall agreement for loft conversion is required. When deciding whether a party wall agreement for loft conversion is required, take into account the following factors:
Type of work
A party wall agreement is required when there is a need to alter the structure of the existing house. For instance, you want to add a room in the backyard, which is equivalent to changing the structure. Thus, you’ll need a party wall agreement.
Location of the work
A party wall agreement might be necessary if the proposed work is located within a predetermined radius of the party wall or boundary. Usually, this distance is established by the Party Wall etc. Act of 1996, but it may vary depending on the kind of work being done.
Ownership of the wall
It will be necessary to have a party wall agreement for loft conversion if the party wall is owned jointly by both properties. A Party Wall Agreement might not be required, though, if one party owns the wall entirely and the other only has a right of support.
Potential damage or inconvenience
Suppose the proposed work could endanger or annoy the neighbouring property or its occupants. In that case, a party wall agreement for loft conversion might be necessary to outline how this will be handled.
Step 2: Appoint a Party Wall Surveyor
A critical step in creating a Party Wall Agreement is the selection of a Party Wall Surveyor. The following considerations should be made when choosing a party wall surveyor:
The Surveyor’s role
The Party Wall Surveyor serves as an impartial arbiter whose job is to uphold both parties’ interests. The Surveyor’s responsibility is to ensure the Party Wall Agreement does the work and to assist in settling potential conflicts.
Choosing a Surveyor
Both parties can agree to appoint a single Surveyor to represent them both, or each party may select their own Party Wall Surveyor. If the neighbouring property owner fails to respond or declines to name a Surveyor, the building owner may do so in their place.
Selecting a Surveyor with knowledge and experience in Party Wall issues is crucial. Seek surveyors from organisations like the Pyramus & Thisbe Club or the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors.
Usually, the Building Owner performing the work is responsible for paying the Surveyor’s fees. If an adjacent property owner decides to hire their own Surveyor, they may also be liable for their own fees.
After giving the neighbouring property owner a party wall notice, appointing a Party Wall Surveyor as soon as possible is critical. This will make it possible for the Surveyor to prepare the Party Wall Agreement and review the proposed works with enough time.
Step 3: Agree on the Party Wall Award
An agreement on the Party Wall Award brings the Party Wall Agreement process to a close. The legally binding Party Wall Award outlines each party’s obligations and rights regarding the proposed works. Take into account the following factors before choosing the Party Wall Award:
Review the proposed works
After reviewing the proposed works, the Party Wall Surveyors will create a Party Wall Agreement outlining each party’s rights and responsibilities. Reviewing the proposed works and the Party Wall Agreement is crucial to ensure accuracy and satisfaction before deciding on the Party Wall Award.
Negotiate any changes
The Surveyors can assist in negotiating changes to the agreement to address any disagreements or concerns regarding the Proposed Works or the Party Wall Agreement. Both parties should cooperate in good faith to reach a mutually agreeable solution.
Sign the Party Wall Award
After the Parties have agreed upon the terms of the Party Wall Agreement, the Surveyors will draw the Party Wall Award. This document will set forth the rights and obligations of each party, as well as any requirements for insurance, access, or payment. Both parties shall sign the Party Wall Award to acknowledge their understanding of and agreement to be bound by its terms.
Follow the terms of the Award
Both parties must abide by the terms of the party wall agreement for loft conversion once it has been signed and is considered a binding legal document. It is the Building Owner’s responsibility to make sure that the work is finished in accordance with the Award and that all of its requirements are met.
Seek legal advice if necessary
It’s crucial to seek legal counsel if there are any disagreements or issues with the Party Wall Award to safeguard your rights. Suppose there are any problems with the Party Wall Agreement or Award. In that case, a lawyer can advise you regarding your legal obligations and help you comprehend your options.
Step 4: Carry out the works
Once the Party Wall Agreement and Party Wall Award have been agreed to and signed, the Building Owner may start completing the detailed works. The following considerations should be made when performing the work:
Notify the adjoining property owner
The building owner is required to notify the owner of the neighbouring property before work begins. By doing this, the owner of the adjacent property will have an opportunity to prepare for any disruptions that may occur while the work is being done.
Comply with the Party Wall Agreement
The Building Owner shall take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the Party Wall Agreement and Party Wall Award. This also entails abiding by any requirements or clauses spelled out in the contract, such as the meeting schedule, any noise restrictions, and access arrangements.
Monitor the works
The Party Wall Surveyors may have to conduct inspections throughout the project to ensure that the Party Wall Agreement is doing the work. These inspections should be disclosed to the building owner, who should ensure the surveyors can access the site.
Address any issues that arise
To solve any issues that might arise during construction, the Building Owner should work in conjunction with the owner of the neighbouring property and the Party Wall Surveyors. Depending on the situation, this might entail modifying the works or negotiating an agreeable solution for all parties.
Complete the works
Upon completion of the project, the building owner must inform the neighbouring property owner. A final inspection by the Party Wall Surveyors may be required to ensure the Party Wall Agreement and Party Wall Award have completed the work.
Step 5: Finalise the Party Wall Award
With the finalisation of the Party Wall Award, the Party Wall Agreement process is complete. This entails ensuring that the Award contains all necessary information and that both parties acknowledge its terms. When deciding how to present the Party Wall Award, consider the following:
Check the details
Confirming that all pertinent information has been incorporated before approving the Party Wall Award is crucial. This includes specifics about the projects being worked on, what each party is responsible for, and any restrictions or conditions that have been made.
It is essential for the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner to formally state their support for the Party Wall Award’s conditions. A written confirmation to the Party Wall Surveyors or the Award’s signature can prove this.
As soon as the Party Wall Award is finalised and acknowledged, copies of it should be sent to the parties respective attorneys. It is ensured that everyone is aware of the terms of the contract and their responsibilities under the Award by doing this.
Follow the terms of the Award
The terms of the Party Wall Award shall be binding upon and enforceable against the Parties. The Adjoining Owner and Building Owner should collaborate to complete the works as quickly as possible, and the Building Owner should ensure that the Award completes the works.
Retain a copy
Keeping a copy of the Party Wall Award is crucial for later reference. This can be used to settle any disagreements that might occur later and ensure everyone is aware of their obligations under the agreement.
Even though they can be challenging and time-consuming to complete, party wall agreements are necessary for carrying out any work that could affect a shared wall or boundary between properties.
The party wall agreement for loft conversion provides both parties with the protection and confidence they need to know that their property rights are respected and that the work is done safely with the least disruption.