Source: communities and local government the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 explanatory booklet.
The Party Wall Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to Party Walls, Boundary Walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. Anyone intending to carry out work (anywhere in England and Wales) of the kinds described by the act must give adjoining owners notice of their intentions. A notice of works enables all parties to agree to the proposals or agree changes to the proposals to the way the work will be carried out.
YES, if any of the following statements are true:
• You are doing work to an existing party wall or shared structure which can include your chimney.
• You intend to build on, or close to the boundary line.
• You are excavating within 3 metres of a building or structure (normally need to consult, but obtain specialist advice. It is dependent on the depth of the foundations)
• You are building further away from a building or structure but excavation is still required. In this scenario, you should consult the party wall booklet.
In all of the scenarios above, The Party Wall Act is likely to be triggered and you will be required to go through statutory procedure. To do this, you should appoint a Chartered Surveyor experienced in Party Wall matters.
If you are doing structural work to the party wall, or works affecting a ceiling or floor, it is strongly advised to give an appropriate written notice to the adjoining owners and occupiers living above or below your property.
The Party Wall Act does not contain enforcement procedures if you fail to serve notice, but if you start work without a neighbour’s consent they may seek to stop your work through a court induction or seek other legal redress.
At least 3 months before the proposed building work start date.
Correct administration of the Party Wall Act will likely take less time but this ensures plenty of time is allowed so you can be confident all statutory Party Wall procedures are completed before work begins.
The worst-case scenario is that you start work before the correct notices have been issued and your neighbours object to this and take you to court to get an injunction to stop building. This can be hugely expensive and time consuming to resolve if you’ve already contracted a builder.
Locate a qualified Chartered Building Surveyor experienced in Party Wall Act matters in your locality. You can get in touch with the experienced and accredited team at Kempton Carr Croft to ensure you receive an excellent service. We are experienced in dealing in Party Wall matters in relation to all types of property, even those with complex technical considerations.
If you are the Building Owner (the person planning the progress of building works) you should send your chosen surveyor the following information:
• Details of the proposed works (Building regulations and & plans would normally be sufficient)
• Any notices you have already served
• Your name and address
• Your neighbour’s name and address (bear in mind that there could be more than one neighbour affected, particularly in blocks of flats, terraced houses or larger commercial schemes)
You should always instruct a Chartered Surveyor who is certified by the RICS ideally at least 3 months prior to the proposed building works commencing. Once instructed a surveyor will undertake the following process;
• Offer advice on the procedure, your obligations and responsibilities
• Review the works proposal which may involve a site inspection depending on the complexity of the works
• Prepare and serve the required Party Wall notices in line with the statutory procedure detailed in the Party Wall Act
• Conduct a site visit and prepare a schedule of condition of neighbouring property prior to works
• Act if there is a dispute between the building owner and the adjoining owner
• Meet with the adjoining owner’s surveyor if required
• If there are no objections to the work from adjoining owners, the surveyor will then prepare and serve the Party Wall Award.
Note: if you fail to appoint a qualified Party Wall Surveyor and attempt to serve notice yourself, you can end up spending more money down the line if the notices are incorrectly issues and need to be corrected. In our experience, 9/10 self-filed notices are incorrect in some way.
If you are the Building Owner you can expect to cover the following costs in line with the Act:
• The appointment of your surveyor
• If your neighbours appoint a surveyor you will pay for their costs too
• Allow for the cost of any damage caused to the neighbouring property as a result of your building works (The likelihood of this arising is minimised with thorough planning & professional contracts.)
• The use of structures to build up to
The Building Owner will usually pay all costs associated in drawing up the award. This includes the adjoining owner’s surveyor fees, as long as the works are solely for the benefit of the Building Owner.
However, a surveyor (or surveyors) may decide who pays the fees for drawing up the award if there are certain circumstances where the work is necessary due to defect or repair. This will be based on the responsibility of the defect or repair.
It can be modified by a county court on appeal. However, an appeal should not be undertaken lightly as an unsuccessful appellant may incur costs against them. If you are considering appealing a party wall award it is best to seek legal advice.
The party / parties who owns the property where building works are due to be carried out.
The party/parties potentially affected by the works. This isn’t just the freeholder but also covers the leaseholder and any tenants in occupation, unless the tenant occupying the property on an AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy).
The following works require you to consider the Party Wall Act and follow the framework it sets out to notify your neighbours.
The key point to consider is whether the proposed works might have consequences for the structural strength and support functions of the Party Wall as a whole or cause damage to structures on the Adjoining Owners side of the Wall.
You don’t. You should contact a qualified Party Wall Surveyor who will review the planned works and ensure the correct notices are issued.
Note that if you fail to provide correct notice by doing it yourself you may end up not being covered for the type of work you are intending to carry out which can cause problems and expense down the line.
Notices are required for gaining access to neighbours land if building on or near the boundary line. There is a procedure to gain the right to access the land in this instance, if you don’t follow it then you have no right to go on your neighbours land and are trespassing without the statutory permission having been granted.
The act gives you powers or rights that you wouldn’t normally have e.g. the right to access or ‘trespass’ on their neighbours land so it is of benefit to the building owner (not just a cost) as it allows them to do things they otherwise wouldn’t be able to and save them money in the long term.
No. All the procedures are dealt with by a qualified Party Wall Surveyor. The Act is designed to prevent neighbours having disputes, going to court and is fully actionable by party wall surveyors.
It is important to get advice on proposed building works right at the start of planning so the procedures of the Act are dealt with and enforced correctly from the offset.
The Party Wall Act does not have any provisions that can be used to solve Boundary Disputes. These disputes must be resolved through the courts or by mutual agreement of the involved parties.
View our Dispute Resolution page for more information on these services.
There are a number of things you can only do to a party wall after notifying and receiving a written agreement from a neighbour, which means the award is not usually applied retrospectively. If works start without consent then it will be a matter of having to deal with any consequences i.e. damage to the adjoining property. If this cannot be agreed between neighbours it will have to go to court.
The notice is only valid for one year, so you should not serve it too long before you are looking to start any work. You must give at least two months’ notice to the Adjoining Owner before any works start.