Party Wall Advice

Party Wall

Since the Party Wall etc Act 1996 came into force, building owners in England and Wales have had a procedure to follow when building work involves a party wall or party fence wall, some excavations close to neighbouring buildings, and new walls at boundaries.

The Act permits owners to carry out certain specific works, including work to the full thickness of a party wall, whilst at the same time protecting the interests of anyone else who might be affected by that work. The Act is designed to avoid or minimize disputes by making sure property owners notify their neighbours in advance of certain proposed works. The Act requires that where the adjoining owner does not 'agree' in writing to the works, a surveyor or surveyors will determine the time and way in which those works are carried out.

There are some things that you can only do to a party wall after notifying your neighbour and either with the written agreement of the neighbour or with a Party Wall Award prepared by a surveyor/surveyors. Such works include:

  • Cutting into a wall to take the bearing of a beam, for example for a loft conversion
  • Inserting a damp proof course, even if only to your own side of a party wall
  • Raising a party wall and, if necessary, cutting off objects preventing this from happening
  • Demolishing and rebuilding a party wall
  • Underpinning a party wall or part of a party wall
  • Weathering the junction of adjoining walls or buildings by cutting a flashing into an adjoining building
  • Excavating foundations within three metres of a neighbour's structure and lower than its foundations
  • Excavating foundations within six metres of a neighbour's structure in certain circumstances
  • You must also notify your neighbour if you propose to build a new wall on the boundary between two properties.

If you intend to do any of these things you must give written notice to your neighbours at least two months before starting any party wall works, or one month for 'line of junction' or excavation works. Where written agreement is not given, within 14 days of the notice, the solution the Act provides is for both parties to appoint an 'agreed surveyor' who will act impartially or each owner appoints a surveyor. The surveyor/s will draw up a document called an 'Award'. It is advisable to seek advice from a surveyor on proposed works which may require notification at an early stage to try and avoid contravening the Act.

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