Party wall issues can be both complex and stressful, whether complying with the law or maintaining good relations with neighbours
To ensure a quick and pain-free resolution that satisfies all sides, you should first seek advice from a specialist surveyor. Additionally, here are answers to some party wall FAQs.
What is a party wall?
A party wall is a shared structure between two properties owned by different people. They can be:
- A shared wall between two semi-detached or terraced homes,
- The wall of one house built on a boundary with a neighbouring property,
- A garden wall built along a boundary to separate two properties,
- Floors and ceilings between neighbouring flats.
What is the Party Wall Act 1996?
The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 defines the rights and responsibilities of everyone on both sides of a property boundary who could be affected when work is carried out on a party structure.
Although it’s often seen as a problem or a hindrance, the Act has been designed to allow work to be done while protecting the interests of all the parties involved.
Does the Party Wall Act affect me?
There is a good chance that you will be affected by some provision of the Party Wall Act if you’re planning building work, and even some maintenance or repair work.
On the other hand, if your neighbour is planning building work then that may also come under the Act.
The following work is likely to come under the Act:
- House extensions, especially on terraced or semi-detached homes,
- Building extensions,
- Structural alterations,
- Building a boundary wall,
- Damp proofing,
- Some internal repairs.
If you are excavating or building new foundations within 3 or 6 metres of a neighbouring property, depending on the depth of your excavation, you may also need to follow the Act.
What do I need to do?
Before carrying out any building work that could affect a party wall, you must follow the procedures prescribed by the Party Wall Etc Act 1996.
Kingsley Associates (Surveyors) Ltd is always happy to offer advice if you’re not sure whether the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 will affect your plans.
It is also a good idea to talk to neighbours early on in the planning process to avoid unpleasant surprises and reduce the chances of an objection.
Why do I need a Party Wall Surveyor?
Party wall surveyors help ensure that the requirements of the Act are met. Specifically, they are needed:
- To decide how and when the building work is carried out; this reduces the likelihood of conflict between neighbours.
- If there is a dispute over the work,
- If you don’t receive written consent within 14 days of serving a notice.
In the latter case, both sides must appoint a surveyor to act on their behalf. They can both appoint the same surveyor, known as the ‘agreed surveyor’, who would act as an impartial arbiter, or ‘referee’ for both parties.
What is a party wall award?
The surveyor produces a document called a Party Wall Award, which describes the proposed work and how and when it must be carried out.
The award also included a Schedule of Condition, which records the condition of the adjoining property before the work starts.
Under the award the Surveyor is allowed access to both properties so that the necessary inspections can be made during the work.
Normally, the Building Owner implementing the works pays all the costs of the work, but the award could also determine who was responsible for paying for the building work if there was a dispute over payment.
How we can help
At Kingsley Associates, we specialise in party wall matters. We were involved with the original London Building Acts before they were superseded by the Party Wall Etc Act in 1996.
- We offer clear, impartial advice and support on all party wall issues and can deal with all party wall procedures on your behalf.
- We are regulated by the RICS and follow their strict codes of conduct to ensure that all parts of the Act are complied with and you are treated fairly.
Before starting any work that may come under the Party Wall Act, contact Kingsley Associates (Surveyors) Ltd for advice.