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What is a Party Wall Act?

This Act came into effect on 1st july 1997 and effects virtually all property in England and wales.

The Act has been written to enable development whilst protecting adjoining owners. Should a dispute occur there are procedures for appointing surveyors to resolve disputed matters.

The act confers rights over the whole of a party Wall or Party Structure including cutting into it;  building it up; pulling it down; cutting of sections that interfere with the development; underpinning; reducing its height etc.

The person carrying out the work is required to serve notice on adjoining owners. An adjoining owner cannot stop someone exercising his or her right under the Act, but may be able to influence how and when the work is done or, at the adjoining owners own cost, request addition work for his own benefit by serving a counter notice.

 

 

What types of building will be covered by the Act?

All categories of buildings are covered, not only dwellings, therefore if you share a party wall or a party fence wall with another person you may be affected by the provisions of this Act if you or your neighbour carry out works to that wall.

What kind of building work is affected ?

This cannot be simply defined. However the following works are covered by the Act.

(JHA would be happy to advise you, if you're unsure with your works)

  • Work that affects an existing party wall such as cutting into it, carrying out wall repairs, underpinning etc., removal of a chimney breast, or cutting into the party wall during a loft conversion, are examples.

  • Excavations within three metres of a neighbours building where the excavation will be deeper than the neighbours foundations. Excavations for the creation of foundations to support new beams or a new building or extension are examples.

  • The drilling of boreholes or excavating of trial holes as part of Site INvestigation within 3 metres of a neighbours building, however boreholes and small trial pits are generally allowed without notice as they may be required to determine whether the Act is applicable.

  • Building or altering a 'party fence wall' - that  is a masonry garden or yard wall, not a wooden fence.

The Process

  1. Firstly you will need to establish that the works are Notifiable under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, if you are unsure JHA can advise you on this.

  2. Next an appropriate party wall notice will need to be served to the adjoining owners giving details of the works. JHA have extensive experience in dealing with party wall agreements and can be appointed at this stage to serve the notice. 

  3. After serving notice the adjoining owners have 14 days to respond in which can lead down several routes depending  on whether they firstly reply at all or reply giving dissent or consent to the work.

  4. If consent is received the Building Owner is free to commence works. However, we would recommend that a Schedule of Condition is undertaken to record the condition of the neighbours property prior to works starting.

  5. On not receiving any response from the adjoining owners a request in writing will be necessary informing the party they have 10 days to appoint a party wall surveyor. Upon no response again then a party wall surveyor may be appointed on the adjoining owners behalf.

  6. A dispute is deemed to have arisen at this stage if receiving dissent or no response and the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 will need to be evoked.  At this stage, each party will need to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor or, if you can agree, a single surveyor can be appointed by both parties referred to as the Agreed Surveyor. 

  7. The building owners surveyor and the adjoining owners surveyor (or the jointly agreed surveyor) will agree impartially the contents of the party wall award which is a legally binding document enforceable by the courts should any deviation occur. Both owners have the right to appeal the party wall award within 14 days of it being served.

  8. Finally the building owner can commence their works in accordance with the party wall award.