Party Wall Services
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
Since the Party Wall etc Act 1996 came into force, home-owners in England and Wales have had a legal obligation to follow the Party Wall Act procedures when building work has an effect on a Party Wall or Party Structure. The Party Wall Act covers three distinct types of work, alterations, remedial works to a shared Party Wall or Party Fence wall, the construction of new walls on the boundary and excavation work to a level deeper than your neighbour’s foundations will also constitute a Party Wall matter if they are within 3 metres (or in some cases 6 metres) of the Party Wall or Party Structure.
All semi-detached and terraced houses have Party Walls, flats have Party Structures. A Party Wall or Structure separates you and your neighbour’s property.
Where work falls within the scope of the Act it is necessary for a Building Owner to serve notice and obtain the affected Adjoining Owner’s consent; if that consent is not forthcoming the parties are deemed to be ‘in dispute’ under the Act and Party Wall surveyors must be appointed so that the dispute can be resolved by way of a Party Wall Agreement (technically called an ‘Award’) in accordance with section 10 of the Act.
Works which commonly affect the Party Wall include, but are not limited to:
- Building extensions
- Damp proofing works
- Internal or external structural alterations (e.g. removing walls and inserting structural steel beams to the Party Wall, loft conversions alterations to roof structure and covering)
- Excavating for foundations and constructing basements
Often an Adjoining Owner only becomes aware of their neighbour’s plans to carry out work under the Act when a Party Wall notice lands through their door. An Adjoining Owner has the option to either consent or dissent to a notice – if no response is made within 14 days the parties are deemed to be in dispute under the Act. Where a dispute arises each Owner must appoint a Party Wall Surveyor or agree the appointment of an Agreed Party Wall Surveyor so that a Party Wall Award can be agreed in accordance with section 10 of the Act.
We recommend that Building Owners have their plans checked over by an experienced Party Wall Surveyor to confirm whether the works come within the scope of the Act and if necessary draft the required notice(s) to ensure the correct notices are served.
An Owner planning to undertake works that fall within the scope of the Act should start planning early; notice periods are either 1 and 2 months depending upon the type of work but where there is a dispute it can take longer than that for an Award to be agreed.
We always advise Building Owners to speak to their neighbours before serving the formal notice. Neighbours that feel they are being kept informed are far less likely to immediately appoint a Party Wall Surveyor when a formal notice is served and, often unnecessarily, run up a large bill for surveyor’s fees.
The Act allows for the same Party Wall Surveyor to be appointed by each of the Owners; in that scenario the surveyor will act as ‘Agreed’ and impartially regulate matters affecting both owners.
In addition to the examples above, we consider ourselves adept at challenging projects, and would welcome new and innovative schemes for us to test our skills! Should any of our services be of interest, please contact us via any of the methods available on our Contact Us