Are you planning to build a garden room on your property? Before starting construction, it's important to understand if you have any obligations under the party wall act. The party wall act defines the rights and obligations of property owners when building work affects a shared wall, boundary, or structure. This article will explore whether a party wall agreement is needed for a garden room and answer some frequently asked questions about the process.
Garden rooms are a popular home improvement project that can add valuable extra space to your property. Whether you plan to use it as a home office, gym, or a relaxation area, a garden room can enhance your lifestyle and property value. However, building one may not be as straightforward as you think. The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (the "Act") governs how building work is carried out on shared property boundaries, walls, and structures, and requires a party wall agreement (Award) in certain circumstances. In this article, we'll guide you through the process of determining if you need a party wall agreement for a garden room and what to do next.
Is a Party Wall Agreement Needed for a Garden Room?
If you are planning to build a garden room that affects a shared wall or structure, you will need to comply with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
A party wall is a shared wall, boundary, or structure that separates two or more properties. A garden room that is built up to or astride a party wall may have an impact on the structural integrity of the wall, or the rights of adjoining owners.
The Act requires that you serve notice to the adjoining owner(s) at least two months before starting the construction work. This notice is called a "Party Wall Notice," and it must describe the proposed work and how it may impact the party wall.
If your neighbours consent to the work, you won't need a party wall award, but if they dissent, you'll need to hire a party wall surveyor or surveyors to prepare and serve an award.
When is a Party Wall Agreement Not Required for a Garden Room?
A party wall agreement is not needed if your garden room is entirely self-contained, i.e., it is not attached to a party wall or structure. If your garden room is freestanding and has no impact on the shared boundary or structure, then you won't need to serve a party wall notice or agreement. However, if you are in any doubt about the impact of your proposed garden room on a shared boundary, it's always best to speak to a party wall surveyor before proceeding with any work.
How to Serve a Party Wall Notice for a Garden Room
Serving a party wall notice for a garden room is a legal requirement and must be done correctly to avoid disputes with your neighbours. The notice should include your name and address, the proposed work, the date you intend to start the work, and the likely duration. It should also include details of the adjoining owner(s) and their address(es) and an explanation of how the work may affect the party wall or boundary. You must serve the notice at least two months before the intended start date. If the adjoining owner(s) consent to the work in writing, then there is no need for a party wall agreement. However, if they dissent, then you'll need to appoint a party wall surveyor or surveyors to prepare and serve a party wall award.
What is a Party Wall Award?
A party wall award is a legal document that sets out the rights and obligations of the building owner and the adjoining owner(s) concerning the proposed work. It is prepared by a party wall surveyor or surveyors, who are appointed either by the building owner or jointly by both parties. The award will include a record of the condition of the party wall or structure before the work starts, a detailed description of the work to be carried out, and any measures to be taken to protect the adjoining owner's property. It will also include a schedule of condition, photographs, and drawings of the party wall, boundary, or structure. The award will become legally binding on both parties once it is signed and served.
How Much Does a Party Wall Agreement Cost?
The cost of a party wall agreement for a garden room can vary depending on several factors, such as the complexity of the project, the number of party wall surveyors involved, and the time required to prepare and serve the notice and award. The building owner is responsible for paying all reasonable costs associated with the party wall agreement, including the surveyor's fees, administrative costs, and any compensation payable to the adjoining owner(s) for any damage or inconvenience caused by the work.
How Long Does It Take to Obtain a Party Wall Agreement?
The process of obtaining a party wall agreement can take several weeks or even months, depending on various factors such as the complexity of the project, the response time of the adjoining owner(s), and the availability of the surveyor(s). You should factor in enough time to serve the notice and allow the adjoining owner(s) to respond and negotiate the terms of the award. Ideally, you should serve the notice at least two months before the intended start date of the work, although the Act requires that you serve it at least one month before the intended start date.
What Happens If You Don't Obtain a Party Wall Agreement?
If you proceed with the construction of your garden room without serving a party wall notice or agreement, you may be liable for damages or legal action taken against you by the adjoining owner(s). The Act provides for compensation for any damage caused to the adjoining owner's property or loss of enjoyment, and the court can order the removal or alteration of the work. You may also have difficulty selling your property in the future if you have not complied with the Act.
How Can a Party Wall Surveyor Help?
A party wall surveyor is an independent professional who can help you navigate the process of obtaining a party wall agreement for your garden room. They can advise you on your legal obligations, help you prepare and serve the notice, and negotiate the terms of the award on your behalf. They can also assist with any disputes that may arise during the construction process and provide expert advice on any technical issues related to the party wall or structure.
If you are planning to build a garden room that affects a shared boundary or structure, you may need to obtain a party wall agreement. The process can be complex and time-consuming, but it's essential to ensure that you comply with the legal requirements and avoid any disputes with your neighbours. If you're unsure whether you need a party wall agreement or how to obtain one, it's best to speak to a party wall surveyor or seek legal advice. Remember, failing to comply with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 can have serious consequences, both financially and legally.
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If you are a Building Owner planning work to your property and need help to manage the Party Wall process, please get in touch.
For information on how the Party Wall Act affects you see our Party Wall Fact Sheet.
You can also find further information in our Party Wall FAQs. This has been compiled this from questions we are often asked about the Act.
You can also find guidance on choosing a Party Wall Surveyor in our recent news article.
There is some further information in the government’s explanatory booklet on the Party Wall process.
If you are unsure how the Party Wall Act affects your property and want some advice give us a call.
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To contact a Party Wall surveyor that's local to you, see details of our teams in :
For advice direct from one of our Surveyors, please call our Enquiry line on 020 4534 3135.
If you are planning work that is covered by the Act, or if you have received notice of work from a neighbour and want advice on how best to protect your property please contact:
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