Party Wall is a term used to summarise a dividing partition between two adjoining buildings or a structure that is shared by the occupants of each residence or business. You may only come across this term when you are having a dispute or are carrying out work on your building.
When you want to carry out any building work near or on the boundary, you will often need to inform any neighbours whose properties may be affected. These neighbours, the ‘Adjoining Owners’, cannot stop you from carrying out this work, but they can impact how and when this work is carried out under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
This act was first introduced to help deal with disputes between neighbouring properties. The Party Wall Act is completely separate from Planning and Building Regulations, and the proposed works may fall under the act, even when other permissions are not required. Although Building Regulations and the Party Wall Act are different, there will be many times they will both apply when work is carried out. So, before you proceed with any work, you must find out if it will be affected by Party Wall rules.
As this can often be a lot of information to take in, we have put together a guide to help you understand the act and what it entails.
The Party Wall Act
The Party Wall Act permits owners to carry out work on the boundary, while also protecting the interest of anyone who may be affected by that work.
The Act is there to avoid or minimise any disputes which may occur by making sure the property owners notify the adjoining owners in advance for certain work. The Party Wall Act requires that where the adjoining owner does not ‘’consent’ in writing to the works being carried out, a surveyor will be appointed to manage how the works will be carried out.
What is Covered by the Party Wall Act?
There are a few things that you can only do to the party wall after letting the adjoining owners know with the written agreement of the neighbour or with a Party Wall Award which has been prepared by the surveyor. These works include:
- Demolishing and then rebuilding the party wall
- Underpinning the party wall or part of it
- Inserting damp proof course, even if it is only to your side of the property
- Raising the party wall and cutting off any objects preventing this from happening
- Excavating foundations within 3-metres of the adjoining owners’ structure and lower than its foundations
- Excavating foundations with 6-metres of an adjoining owners’ structure and below a line that has been drawn down at 45-degrees from the bottom of the foundation
- Cutting into the wall to take the bearing of a beam
- Weathering the junction of adjoining walls or buildings by cutting a flashing into an adjoining building
- You will also have to notify your neighbour if you propose to build a new wall on the boundary between the two properties
The Party Wall Act only relates to specific types of work and is not just another way to prevent your neighbour from carrying out work. Additionally, it is not there to be applied to minor jobs that do not affect the structural integrity of the party wall like fixing a socket, putting up shelves or replacing wiring.
It is important to note that a boundary wall separating gardens can also be classified as party fence walls, and the proposed work does not necessarily have to affect the main building in order to require a party wall notice.
What Do You Need To Do?
If you intend to do any of the above, you have to give written notice to your neighbours at least two months before commencing any party wall works, or one month for excavation works. Additionally, when there is more than one owner of the neighbouring building – for example, a freeholder and a leaseholder – you will need to serve notices on each.
If you live in a flat and are looking to carry out any structural work to the party wall or doing any work which will affect the ceiling or floor (which can be classified as party structures), you will have to give written notice to any adjoining owners as well as those living above or below you.
It is advisable that you speak to your neighbours about the work you are planning to do, as this way, if a notice is served it will not come as a surprise.
Before you start the specific works, you have to either have your neighbour’s written agreement to the proposed works or appoint a surveyor to prepare a Party Wall Award.
As we have mentioned above, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced party wall surveyor. Here at Martin Perry Associates, we can advise you on any party wall issues you may have, as well as assist you with any Exeter planning applications, as well as throughout the rest of Devon and Cornwall. We are members of the Pyramus & Thisbe club, which is a leading authority on the act, promoting the best professional practice.
If you have any questions regarding the Party Wall Act, then you can click here for our handy guide, or alternatively, call us on 01579 345777.