A Guide To Party Walls

A Party Wall is a boundary between two buildings or properties owned by two or more owners.

According to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, there are two types of Party Wall, and these are;

  1. A wall that spans a boundary of land belonging to two or more owners
  2. A wall that is situated entirely on one owner’s land but is used by two or more owners as a boundary to their property.

Party Wall Notice

If your neighbour is planning building work, there are three types of Notice that you may receive outlining areas of work to be carried out on their property.  They are:

  1. Party Wall Guide | McCarthy Partnership Ltd - Commercial Chartered Building SurveyorsA Party Structure Notice – this type of Notice deals with alterations that will affect the Party Wall directly, such as insertion of beams which requires cutting holes. The notice period for this type of Notice is two months.
  2. The Notice of Adjacent Excavation – this type of Notice deals with works that require excavations for new foundations that are either within three meters of the owner’s building and lower in depth than the foundations of the building or within six meters of the owner’s building and intersects at an angle of 45 degrees in line with an external wall. This Notice will have plans attached detailing the depth of the foundation.
  3. Line of Junction Notice – this type of Notice covers two forms of work, a new wall that is to be constructed adjacent to your boundary or a new wall that spans the boundary. The notice period for this type of Notice is one month.

Party Wall Disputes

If you, as the neighbour, on receiving a party wall notice, do not consent within 14 days to proposed works on the adjoining property you are considered as being “in dispute”. This dispute is resolved by the appointment of a surveyor who in turn draws up a Party Wall Award,  It should be noted that all party wall surveyors, such as McCarthy Partnership Ltd, have a legal duty to be impartial.

What is a Party Wall Award?

A Party Wall Agreement can also be referred to a ‘Party Wall Award’. It is a written agreement that is drawn up by two surveyors, each acting on behalf of a different neighbour. The cost of the surveyors is covered by the neighbour undertaking the work.

An Award consists of three aspects:

  1. Guidelines as to how the proposed work will be carried out
  2. A Schedule of Condition of the adjoining owners property. This will often include supporting photographs.
  3. Plans and drawings that show in detail proposed works.

The Award tends to be based upon a RICS drafted document.  This draft will then be subject to amendment to reflect proposed works.

The Award should also contain the following:

  • Details of both properties
  • Details of the owners of the properties, including their home addresses
  • Details of both surveyors and the third or agreed surveyor
  • Plan detailing proposed works
  • Working hours on properties
  • Details of assurances such as Public Liability Insurance
  • Access arrangements for surveyors to access properties
  • A timetable with predicted completion date for the work
  • Surveyor’s fee for the adjoining owner

Once the Party Wall Award is agreed by both parties a signed a copy is sent to both owners, via their appointed surveyors.  There is a 14 day period in which either owner can then appeal on the contents of the Party Wall Award.

Why would you need a Party Wall Award?

The Party Wall Award ensures that there are certain protections under the Act.

If you are the owner of the building that works are being carried out upon, the Party Wall Award will ensure that all defects existing in the adjoining property are recorded prior to the commencement of work.  The Award further provides a right of access to the property belonging to the adjoining property in order that works can be carried out.

If you are the neighbour, the Party Wall Award enables surveyors to regulate the time periods in which work is carried out, enables provision for dealing with damage, ensures that any damage to the property will be repaired and that work will not cause any avoidable inconvenience.

The key thing is to find a qualified and trusted chartered building surveyor to carry out the Party Wall Assessment.

For more information on the Party Wall Act of 1996: www.gov.uk/guidance/party-wall-etc-act-1996-guidance

For answers to regularly asked questions about Party Walls go to out News & Blog section.