Party Wall FAQs

Party Wall issues are commonplace in cities around the UK, and we are often asked about aspects of the Party Wall Act and how it affects building owners and adjoining owners.

We have collated a selection these questions into our Party Wall FAQs.

If you have any further queries about the Party Wall Act that we haven’t covered please submit them using our Contact Us form. We will be in touch to help answer them, and will also update our FAQs regularly.

Party Wall FAQs

  • Do I need to serve a party wall notice?

    You must tell your neighbour if you want to :

    • Build on or at the boundary of your two properties
    • Work on an existing party wall or party structure
    • Excavate below and near to the foundation level of their building or structure

    Where work falls under the provisions of the Act you must inform all Adjoining Owners by giving written notice, normally at least two months before the planned start on site. The notice is only valid for a year, so it is also important that it is not be served too early.

    We always advise building owners to speak to their neighbours before serving a formal notice. Neighbours that feel they are being consulted and kept informed are far less likely to immediately appoint a surveyor when a notice is served. This can avoid running up a large bill for surveyor’s fees.

  • How much notice do you have to give before starting work under the party wall act?

    Normally at least two months before the planned start of work to the party wall. The notice is only valid for a year, so it should not be served too early.

  • Who pays a Party Wall surveyor’s fees?

    Usually the Building Owner will pay all costs associated with drawing up the award including the adjoining owner’s surveyors’ fees, if the works are solely for the Building Owner’s benefit. It is therefore important that the whole process is managed efficiently to keep to keep adjoining owner’s surveyors fees to a minimum.

     

    Adjoining owners’ surveyors are not required to quote in advance so their fees are calculated by reference to an hourly rate with the final figure being agreed with the building owner’s surveyor. Should the two surveyors fail to agree upon a reasonable amount the matter can be referred to the Third Surveyor who has the final say.

  • Can you reach a party wall agreement without a surveyor?

    Surveyors are only appointed where a dispute occurs, either because an adjoining owner does not respond, or where they respond and indicate there is a dispute.

    Adjoining owners may instead consent to a notice and this consent can be conditional, for instance provided a record of the condition of their premises is undertaken before the works begin.

    Having consented to a notice, any subsequent dispute can be referred to surveyors if needed, for instance if damage is caused and cannot be agreed between the owners.

  • Does a party wall award transfer to a new adjoining owner?

    An Award transfers to any subsequent adjoining owners provided it remains valid.

    However, if the owners proposing the work change, then the Award is void and the process must begin again

     

  • What is an Adjoining Owner under the party wall act?

    The adjoining owner is the owner of a property adjacent to where work is proposed

    The owner of the property where the work is proposed is referred to as the building owner

  • Does the party wall act allow access to a neighbours’ property?

    There are rights to access your neighbour’s land to carry out works authorised by the Party Wall Act but only where the proposed access is reasonably necessary to carry out that work

  • Can a neighbour refuse a party wall agreement?

    No, provided the correct procedures are followed your neighbour cannot stop you undertaking works which you are authorised to undertake by the Party Wall Act.

  • What is the definition of a party wall?

    A party wall is a wall which either separates buildings, or is built astride the boundary and forms part of a building.

  • Undertaking excavation near neighbouring buildings?

    Excavation within three metres of and below the level of a neighbour’s foundations is work falling under the Party Wall Act.

    Deep excavation within 6 metres of a neighbour’s foundations may also fall under the Party Wall Act.

  • What is a party fence wall?

    A wall built astride the boundary which does not form part of a building.

  • Can I build against a party wall?

    Yes, this work may fall under the Party Wall Act if it involves cutting into or away from the party wall, or excavating below the foundations of the party wall.

  • How long does a party wall agreement last?

    Generally one year from the date of the Award.

  • Does the Party Wall act apply in Scotland?

    The Party Wall etc Act applies in England & Wales only.

  • Is a wooden fence a party wall?

    No, although references are sometimes made to shared or ‘party fences’.  These do not fall under the Party Wall Act.

  • Can I build an extension on a party wall?

    Party walls may be raised to form extensions, but not lengthened without your neighbour’s consent.  Party fence walls can also be raised or used to form extensions.

  • Who is responsible for repairing a party wall?

    Maintenance of party walls is shared according to the responsibility for any defect or want of repair and the use to which the owners make of the wall.  For instance, a party wall could form part of one person’s building but be only a boundary wall for another owner.

  • What is a party fence?

    Generally, a fence shared by two owners.  These do not fall under the Party Wall Act.

  • What is the difference between a party wall and a boundary wall?

    A party wall either separates buildings, or is built astride the boundary and forms part of a building.

    A party fence wall stands astride the boundary but does not form part of a building.

    A boundary wall does not form part of a building, and does not stand astride the boundary but on one person’s land or the others.

  • Can I raise a party wall?

    Raising a party wall is authorised by the Party Wall Act provided the correct procedures are followed.

  • How close to a party wall can I build?

    Excavation within three metres of and below the level of a neighbour’s foundations is work falling under the Party Wall Act.

    Deep excavation within 6 metres of a neighbour’s foundations may also fall under the Party Wall Act.

    If you are not excavating below the level of a party wall, the Party Wall Act does not define how close you can build, but if the work involves cutting into or away from the Party Wall it will fall under the Party Wall Act and the correct procedures must be followed.

Further Guidance when appointing a Party Wall Surveyor

For information on how the Party Wall Act affects you as a Building Owner or as an Adjoining Owner, see our Party Wall Fact Sheet.

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 please give us a call. If you would rather we called you instead, please fill in our Contact form and we will be in touch.

Contact

If you are planning work 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 :

Rickie Bloom

Director

DD : 020 7947 0960

M : 07816 845 160


Mark Amodio

Senior Director

DD : 020 4534 9339

M : 07803 504 021


Geoffrey Adams

Senior Director

DD : 020 7947 0965

M : 07507 709 434

To submit a question on Party Wall matters, or to request a call back from the Party Wall Team please complete our Contact Us form here.

We will be updating our Party Wall FAQs regularly with any further questions that come up.

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