The Party Wall Act

The Party Wall Act 1996 puts in place steps to safeguard the rights of those undertaking certain types of building work and the rights of their adjoining neighbours. The Party Wall Act works to protect the owner undertaking the works, through the party wall surveyors, by ensuring that the work is lawful, whilst also protecting their neighbour’s rights in the event of damage occurring.

If you intend to carry out construction or alterations which involve:

  • Work on a wall, floor or ceiling shared with another property
  • Building on the boundary with another property
  • Excavating within 6 metres of an adjoining building

 

You may find that the work falls within the scope of this Act. If it does, you must serve statutory Notices on all those defined by the Act as adjoining owners. This is quite separate from any need for planning permission and/or building regulation approval.

The process is not as complicated as it may seem at first and can have substantial practical benefits for both parties. Whether it is a Party Wall Notice, a Party Wall Agreement or a Party Wall Award they will keep your project legal and moving forward with the minimum of fuss.

 

Party Wall Notices

The Party Wall Act requires a written “Party Wall Notice” to be served on adjoining neighbours affected by works under the Act.  Peak Architects can generate a Party Wall Notice and serve them directly on your neighbour(s) by post on your behalf.

Once you have served a Party Wall Notice upon your neighbour he/she has 14 days in which to respond in writing. If he/she requests a “Party Wall Award” or does not respond to you within the 14 days then both you and your neighbour must appoint Party Wall surveyors under section 10 of the Party Wall Act. You can either jointly agree upon a single party wall surveyor or you can each appoint different party wall surveyors.

If you have already spoken with your neighbours and they have said that they do not require a party wall surveyor then you may wish to purchase a party wall agreement and give it to your neighbours to sign. There is no need to serve a separate party wall notice in this case.

If you have not spoken with your neighbours or do not know whether they will require a party wall surveyor then you should first serve a Party Wall Notice. Your neighbour can then decide whether they wish to appoint a party wall surveyor or sign a Party Wall Agreement.

If your neighbours decide to appoint a party wall surveyor after receiving the Party Wall Notice then you will also need to appoint a surveyor.  We have several Party Wall Surveyors that we have worked closely with in the past and will be happy to provide you with their contact details.

 

Party Wall Agreement

A “Party Wall Agreement” is not the same as a “Party Wall Award”. An “Agreement” would normally be used where the person undertaking the work and their neighbours are both happy to consent to the building work going ahead without the need to involve party wall surveyors. If a neighbour is unwilling to agree to the building work going ahead then a “Party Wall Award” would generally be required before work could start. As a Party Wall Agreement does not require the involvement of surveyors, it is usually a much cheaper option than a “Party Wall Award”.

The agreement is legally binding between the person wishing to complete the work and their neighbours. The purpose of the agreement is to provide both parties with a balanced written framework for ensuring that the work is carried out legally, fairly and safely. The agreement also sets out an inexpensive and simple dispute resolution procedure to govern how any future disagreement between the two parties should be resolved.

To view the Party wall Act 1996 please click here.