Party Wall Info

Explaining The Act

The Party Wall etc. Act came into force in 1996 and is now part of UK property law.

It is an enabling piece of legislation meaning it gives you rights to undertake works but places on you responsibilities exchange to protect adjoining and adjacent properties which might be damaged as a consequence of said works.

If you are wishing to carryout works the Act refers to you as the Building Owner(s) and your neighbour(s) are the Adjoining Owner(s).

The Act does not affect any requirement for Planning Permission or Building Regulation Approval for any work undertaken. Likewise, having Planning Permission and/or Building Regulation Approval does not negate the requirements and obligations laid out in the Act.

The Act comes into effect if someone is planning to do work on a relevant structure. For the purposes of the Act ‘party wall’ does not solely mean the wall between two semi-detached properties, it covers:

  • A wall forming part of only one building but which is on the boundary line between two (or more) properties.
  • A structure which is common to two (or more) properties, this includes where someone built a wall and a neighbour subsequently builds butting up to it.
  • A garden wall, where the wall is astride the boundary line (or butts up against it) and is used to separate the properties but is not part of any building.
  • Floors and ceilings of flats etc.
  • Excavation near to a neighbouring property.
If this sounds complicated, it is! Call us free and we can explain your options in simple term are and tell you how the Act specifically relates to your property. There is no charge for this initial consultation or advice.

Notifiable Works

What work can be done without notice/permission?

Under the Party Wall Act some work is not covered. Such work include:

  • Putting up shelves and wall units.
  • Replastering.
  • Electrical rewiring.

What work needs a notice and permission?

The general principle of the Party Wall Act is that all work which might have an effect upon the structural strength or support function of the party wall or might cause damage to the neighbouring side of the wall must be notified.
Work covered by the Party Wall Act includes:

  • Building a new wall on the Line of Junction (Boundary)
  • Demolishing and/or rebuild a party wall.
  • Increasing the height or thickness of a party wall.
  • Insertion of a damp proof course (either chemical injection or a physical dpc).
  • Cutting into the party wall to take load bearing beams.
  • Underpinning a party wall.
  • Excavations within 3 metres of a neighbouring building where the excavation will go below the bottom of the foundations of the neighbouring building.
  • Excavations within 6 metres of a neighbouring building where the excavation will go below a line drawn 45° downwards from the bottom of the foundations of the neighbouring building.

What is required when serving a notice?

If the planned work to an existing structure falls under the Party Wall Act, a notice must be issued to all affected neighbouring parties. The owners of the property undertaking the work must cite:

  • The address of the property.
  • The names of all the owners of the adjoining property.
  • A description of the proposed work, usually a single line giving a brief description.
  • The proposed start date for the work.
  • A clear statement that the notice is being served under The Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
  • The date the notice is being served.
  • If the notice is for excavation work, then a drawing showing the position and depth of the excavation must be included.

The process of serving a notice under the Party Wall Act is as follows:

  • The person intending to carry out the work must serve a written notice on the owners of the adjoining property at least two months before the intended start of the work to every neighbouring party giving details of the work to be carried out.
  • Each neighbouring party should respond in writing giving consent or registering dissent if a neighbouring party does nothing within 14 days of receiving the notice, the effect is to put the notice into dispute.
  • No work may commence until all neighbouring parties have agreed in writing to the notice (or a revised notice). If any of the information is missing from a served noticed, it will be invalid in which case, any subsequent award will also be invalid.

See below regarding what happens in the event of a dispute/objection.

We’re here to help. If you are in doubt with regards to the Act, please give us a call. You can send us a copy of your drawings and we will advise you accordingly, confirming what notices are required; there is no cost for this service.

Party Wall Awards

New boundary walls

If the planned work is a new boundary wall up to or astride the boundary line, the process is similar to the above but the notice needs to be served at least one month before the planned start date of the work. Neighbouring parties must give written agreement within 14 days for walls astride the boundary (or a dispute is deemed to have occurred. See below regarding what happens in the event of a dispute/objection.

Excavations

If the planned work is an excavation within the distance/depth covered by the Party Wall Act, the notice needs to be served at least one month before the planned start day of the work. Neighbouring parties must give written agreement within 14 days or a dispute is deemed to have occurred.
See below regarding what happens in the event of a dispute/objection.

What happens if a dispute arises?

  • If agreement cannot be reached between neighbouring parties, the process is as follows:

A Surveyor or Surveyors is/are appointed to determine a fair and impartial Award, either:

– An ‘Agreed Surveyor’ (someone acceptable to all parties).

or
– Each party appoints their own Surveyor to represent the individual parties.
The first option is usually cheaper as the costs should be reduced, usually it will be the Building Owner i.e. the party undertaking the work who will pay the surveyor’s fees in the matter. It should be noted that as Surveyor(s) are acting under statute they must act in a fair and unbiased manner.

  • The Agreed Surveyor, or the individual Surveyors jointly, will produce an Award which must be fair and impartial.
  • Once an Award has been made, both parties have 14 days to appeal to a County Court against the Award.

Schedule of Condition and Photographic Record

While not a statutory requirement, we always recommend that a schedule of condition and photographic record of the relevant parts of the Adjoining Owner(s)’ property is taken and appended to an award. The purpose of the schedule is to ensure that should any damage be caused as a consequence of the works it will be a matter of record and not of dispute: it will confirm the extent of any damage.

Once you have an award

Once you have award all work must respect the obligations imposed therein. The award should be retained to ensure that a record is kept; a subsequent purchaser of the property may wish to establish that the work was carried out in accordance with the Party Wall Act requirements.

At Jordan Brettell we always recommend that even if an Adjoining Owner consents in principle to the work and there is no award to put in place a schedule of condition and photographic record is still taken to protects the position of both parties.

Jordan Brettell Limited
Clibbons Cottage
85 Bramfield Road
Datchworth, Hertfordshire
SG3 6SA

Herts: 01438 798870
            07815 051255

London: 0208 05 85 080
               07932 213 866

Email: info@jordanbrettell.com
www.jordanbrettell.com

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