Party wall legislation has been in force in London for over 100 years. However, the 1996 Act replaced the older Acts and extended the legislation to affect the whole of England and Wales. The Act enables work to be carried out to a party wall, party fence wall, or certain works on a boundary whilst protecting the interests of all parties affected by the work.
A party wall is a wall which forms part of a building and stands on the land of different owners. A wall on the land of one owner which has been enclosed on by the adjoining owner is also a party wall. Before undertaking any building work to a party wall, such as structural alterations, extensions, damp proofing works and some internal repairs, you must follow the procedures prescribed by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
A party fence wall is a wall which stands on the land of different owners and is used to separate differing lands. Many older boundary walls are party fence walls.
If you are excavating or forming new foundations within 3 or 6 metres of a neighbouring property or party structure, you may also need to follow the procedures in the Act, depending on the relative depths of the foundations.
The construction of a new boundary wall may also require the procedures under the Act to be followed.
If you are planning to have building work carried out there is a good chance that some of it may come within the provisions of the Party Wall Act.
Many domestic extensions, especially in terraced or semi-detached properties, require party wall procedures, as do most town centre developments. Some maintenance and repair work also falls within the scope of the Act, as do some works to floors between flats.
If your neighbour is planning building work their work may also come under the ACT and you could be entitled to notice.
The best approach is to speak to our expert party wall surveyors to discuss any party wall query to identify if the proposed works fall under the provision of the act. Contact us here.
Before undertaking any building works to a party wall, you (the Building Owner) will need to provide your neighbours (the Adjoining Owner) with written notice at least 2 months before commencing the works (or one month for ‘line of junction’ or excavation works). If the adjoining owner rents the property you will also need to inform the landlord or freehold owner of the building. It is possible that there could be more than one adjoining owner and if this is the case, then you will need to inform all affected parties who have an interest in the property of more than one year.
If the adjoining owner consents to the works, they will need to provide you with an agreement in writing within 14 days of the date of the notice. If possible, it is advisable to talk in person with your neighbours prior to issuing the official notice, this often helps maintain trust and increases the likelihood of matters proceeding smoothly.
If the adjoining owner dissents to the notices, then a party wall award is required, and party wall surveyors can prepare and serve the award on the parties affected. The award will stipulate matters surrounding the party wall works and will also include a schedule of condition of the neighbouring property.
Party wall surveyors are needed in order to follow the procedures set out in the Party Wall Act and to determine how and when the building work is carried out. This will help to minimise disputes arising between the two (or more) neighbours.
If there is a dispute over the works, or if you do not receive written consent within 14 days of serving a notice, both you and your neighbour will need to appoint a surveyor to act on your behalf. If you wish, you can both appoint the same surveyor, who would then be known as the ‘Agreed Surveyor’ and would act impartially for both parties.
The surveyor would prepare a document known as a Party Wall Award, which describes in detail the proposed work and how and when it will be carried out. The Award also includes a Schedule of Condition, which records the condition of the adjoining property prior to the work being undertaken.
Under the Award the surveyor would be granted access to both properties in order that he can make the necessary inspections during the course of the works.
The Award would also establish who is responsible for funding the building work if there is a dispute regarding payment. It is usually the Building Owner implementing the works who would pay for all the expenses.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is legislation and failure to comply with the Act could leave you in a very vulnerable position with potentially expensive costs for reinstating works which do not comply with the Act. You could also be liable to make good damage to neighbouring properties and compensate adjoining owners.
As part of the solicitor’s enquiries during the sale of a property, it is becoming more common for solicitors to request copies of any party wall awards. Failure to provide an award where notifiable works have been undertaken could jeopardise the sale of your property.
Whether you or your neighbour are proposing to undertake building works our surveyors are able to provide clear, impartial, expert help and advice relating to all party wall issues. We can deal with all aspects of the party wall procedures on your behalf in order to lessen your burden and to ensure the procedures of the Party Wall Act are followed.
As we are regulated by the RICS, there are strict codes of conduct we must follow, and we will ensure that all elements of the Party Wall Act are fully adhered to.
Several members of our surveyors are members of the Sussex branch of the Pyramus and Thisbe Club – a respected national forum for party wall surveyors.
If you would like a quotation for dealing with party wall matters on your behalf or for more information on any of our services, please contact us.
The government have issued a guidance note and this can be downloaded here Party Wall Explanatory Booklet
More information on the Pyramus and Thisbee club and our members can be found here partywalls.org.uk
A draft party wall award can be viewed here:
If you would like a quotation for a survey or more information on any of our services, please use our contact form, or call us on: