Party Wall
Apr 26, 2024

Builder Responsibility in Party Wall

An undertaking from the contractor to make good any damage they cause may not suffice because they may not actually...

Award

An undertaking from the contractor to make good any damage they cause may not suffice because they may not actually follow through with it. So, the Act imposes a duty on building owners to rectify damage or pay compensation known as “payment in lieu”. 

Building Contract 

The building owner can include a clause in the building contract requiring the contractor to pay for repairs if any damage is done by them to an adjoining property. To avoid exposing contractors to exorbitant payment claims it should refer to “the reasonable cost”. The contractor should also have Public Liability Insurance against which a claim can be made.

Addendum

Party wall surveyors often resolve issues regarding the reasonable cost of repairs. Although the building owner may try to “pass the buck” by stating that any claim for damages should be made against their contractor, the award does not include the contractor as a party. So, the adjoining owner is within their rights to request an addendum award against the building owner, as drafted by the two surveyors or Agreed Surveyor.

The building owner would then have to subsequently make a claim against their contractor and which may include additional party wall surveyor fees arising out of making the addendum award. Therefore it is vital for building owners to retain sufficient funds under the contract terms to cover potential damage to adjoining owners.

Post-Works

Adjoining owners' surveyors typically conduct their final inspections only after being informed that party wall work is complete. Party wall surveyors ordinarily expedite party wall awards to enable works to commence but final inspections are often conducted a few weeks after project completion as there is little urgency. 

Incomplete Works v Damage

There is a distinction between "finishing" and "damage." During final inspections incomplete work on the adjoining owner's side of the party wall is frequently found. In such cases the building owner's contractor should be given the opportunity to complete the work before the adjoining owner can arrange it with their own independent contractor and seek reimbursement or receive payment in lieu. Setting a reasonable deadline is recommended so that contractors are provided ample time and opportunity to avoid incurring unnecessary costs.