If you're a property owner in the UK planning to undertake construction work on or near a shared boundary, it's essential to be familiar with the basics of the Party Wall Act.
This legislation was enacted to regulate construction work that might impact party walls, party structures, and excavations near neighbouring properties.
This guide provide a summary of the basic provisions of the Party Wall Act with links to a collection of articles that give more detail on specific topics.
What is the Party Wall Act?
The Party Wall Act 1996 is a piece of legislation that applies to England and Wales, and it provides a framework for resolving disputes between property owners concerning party walls and structures. It aims to strike a balance between the rights of the property owner undertaking the work and the rights of the neighbouring property owners who might be affected.
When does the Act apply?
The Party Wall Act applies when one or more of the following types of work is planned:
- Building a new wall on or at the boundary of two properties.
- Cutting into a party wall to insert a beam or other support.
- Raising a party wall's height or demolishing and rebuilding it.
- Excavating within specified distances of a neighbouring building's foundation.
Appointing a Party Wall Surveyor
The Act requires the property owner planning the work (the "Building Owner") to serve a Party Wall Notice to all affected neighbouring property owners.
If the neighbouring owner consents to the proposed work, there's no need for further action. However, if they dissent, Party Wall Surveyors will need to be appointed. It is importnat to note that a neighbour cannot refuse a party wall agreement. There's further guidance on responding to a Party Wall Notice in our recent article.
The Role of the Surveyor
Party Wall Surveyors have a statutory duty to act impartially once appointed under the Act.
Their role is to ensure work to the party wall can progress in an agreed manner. They resolve any dispute between the Building Owner and neighbouring owners. The proposed work is assessed for its potential impact and a legally binding Party Wall Agreement is produced. Also known as a Party Wall Award this outlines the work's details and safeguards the rights of both parties.
Serving a Party Wall Notice
The Party Wall Notice must be served at least two months before the planned construction work's commencement. Failure to serve the notice can lead to delays or legal implications.
Understanding Party Wall Agreements
A Party Wall Agreement sets out various conditions, such as working hours, access rights to neighbouring properties, and provisions for handling damages. The Building Owner is responsible for covering the surveyors' fees and any expenses incurred by the neighbouring owner for safeguarding their property.
Work Exempt from the Act
It's crucial to understand whether your planned construction falls within the Act's scope. Some minor works might be exempt from the Party Wall Act's provisions.
However, failure to follow the party wall act procedure for qualifying works can have dire consequences. The Act has the effect of authorising works that would otherwise be a trespass, subject to a claim for damages and compensation. If in any doubt, better safe than sorry – send us your plans and we will check them and confirm whether you need to serve notice.
Summary : Party Wall Basics
In conclusion, the Party Wall Act is a vital piece of legislation that ensures a fair and regulated process when undertaking construction work near shared boundaries. By understanding its provisions and obligations, property owners can mitigate potential disputes and ensure a smoother construction process while respecting their neighbours' rights and interests.
Remember that this article is only a summary. It is essential that you seek advice from a qualified chartered surveyor experienced in party wall matters before starting work on or near a shared boundary.
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Schedules of Condition
Boundary Reports & Advice
Movement & Vibration Monitoring
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Further Guidance when appointing a Party Wall Surveyor
For further help and advice on the basics of the Party Wall Act, please get in touch.
As a Building Owner planning work to your property we can provide help and advice to manage the Party Wall process.
If you would rather we called you instead, please fill in our Contact form and we will call you back.
For further information on a range of Party Wall subjects, see our recent articles below :
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.
To get your online quote for Party Wall advice, send us the details of your project.
Local Party Wall Surveyors
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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