A party wall is a wall that separates the buildings of two different owners. Under the Party Wall Act of 1996, there are two types of party wall.
Type A – forms part of a building and stands on land shared by different owners, for example, a wall that separates a terraced house.
Type B – this is a wall that stands entirely on the land of one person, but is used by two properties to separate their buildings. For example, a garage that adjoins a wall that is owned by the neighbour. Only the part of the wall that does the separating is considered a party wall.
In this article, we answer some of your most popular questions involving party walls.
What is a Party Fence Wall?
A party fence wall is a standalone wall that is not part of a building, that runs along the boundary line between two properties, for example, a garden wall. It does not include wooden fences.
Do I Need to Serve a Party Wall Notice?
Under the Act, there are three different types of notice that a building owner may have to serve the adjoining owner, to provide them with notice of any upcoming works. There are three different types of notice.
Party Structure Notice – this is notice of proposed alterations that directly affect the party wall such as cutting into the wall to insert a beam or removing a chimney breast.
Notice of Adjacent Excavation – this is notice of excavation that will happen within three or six meters of the neighbours building (depending on the type of excavation). It can also apply if the depth will be lower than the bottom foundations.
Line of Junction Notice – this covers the construction of a new wall that is adjacent or astride a boundary.
This gives the adjoining owner the chance to consent or dissent to the proposed works. Should the owner dissent, the next step should be a party wall award.
What is a Party Wall Award, and do I Need One?
You will need a Party Wall Notice if the adjoining owner does not respond within 14 days or agree to a served party wall notice. A Party Wall Award is a document produced by two chosen party wall surveyors, or a single agreed surveyor if selected by both parties. The award is beneficial for the building owner because it protects them from spurious claims for damage by recording all existing cracks and defects to the adjoining property before the work commences. It also allows the right of access to the adjoining property to execute any necessary works.
The adjoining owner will benefit from the peace of mind that their land or buildings will not be damaged during the work, and if they are provisions can be dealt with, without the need for a civil claim. It also ensures that they are aware of the time during which work will be carried out and doesn’t cause them unnecessary inconvenience.
Should I Appoint a Party Wall Surveyor?
It is recommended to appoint an experienced party wall surveyor, here you have two options. You and your neighbour can agree on one party wall surveyor, who will act impartially on behalf of the building owner and the adjoining owner, the outcome would be an agreed Party Wall Award. Alternatively, each party can appoint their own surveyor, who will act on behalf of either the building owner or the adjoining owner. The party wall surveyor for the building owner will usually serve the notices and liaise with the adjoining owner’s surveyor. For more information on party wall surveyors head to our blog, Do I Need a Party Wall Surveyor.
What to do if There is Party Wall Damage?
Any damage to the adjoining owner’s wall will be legally liable for compensation from the building owner if the steps to a Party Wall Agreement have been followed correctly. This covers damage caused to the adjoining owner’s party wall by the building owner, or a contractor employed by them. Here a competent party wall surveyor can assess any damage caused, and look into the schedule of condition report, as well as the original agreement to come to a deal with both parties.
Here at Martin Perry Associates, we can provide help and advice on all aspects of party walls, to ensure any works carried out are handled correctly. To find a structural engineer in Devon, call us on 01579 345777 or visit our website for more information.