How to Approach Shared Party Walls
Many properties in the UK share a party wall with a neighbour, and property owners who are planning to undertake work to the shared party wall may have to adhere to the procedure outlined in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
What is the Party Wall etc Act 1996?
The Act provides guidelines for property owners in England and Wales who are looking to undertake building work involving a party wall, new walls created at boundary lines and some excavations that take place close to neighbouring buildings.
A party wall may be the wall separating two semi-detached or terraced houses, a shared brick garden wall (party fence wall), or a party structure which separates parts of buildings with different owners on either side, such as the floor or wall between two flats.
Work that you have to inform your neighbour about before undertaking includes inserting a damp proof course; underpinning, demolishing and rebuilding, or changing the height/depth of a party wall; removing chimneys from a party wall; and excavating foundations close to the neighbour?s structure. More information on notifiable works can be found on the Government website.
You do not need to inform your neighbour about basic internal alterations such as plastering, rewiring electrics, adding or removing electrical sockets or fixing furniture like shelving to the walls.
How Does the Act Work?
According to the Act, property owners must serve notice to the adjoining property owner outlining the intended work – this should be served 2-12 months prior to the expected start date. The neighbour must reply within 14 days and either agree or disagree to the proposal.
If the neighbouring property owner does not respond within 14 days or they do not agree to the proposal the matter is said to be in dispute. Each party will then need to appoint an independent party wall surveyor or agree on one surveyor who will represent them both as the agreed surveyor.
The surveyor(s) will prepare a schedule of condition covering any at risk sections of the adjoining property before any work begins. This provides proof of the original condition to ensure any damage to the property can be appropriately remedied. The surveyor(s) will also draw up a Party Wall Award including details of how the works should take place, working hours, timeframe of the works, access requirements and reasonable safeguards to reduce risk of damage from the works.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is not intended to thwart property owners from undertaking reasonable works to party walls, it is instead designed to ensure that the neighbouring property does not suffer any negative consequences as a result of the work.
Lawrence & Taylor can act as party wall surveyors for either owner or as agreed surveyor for both parties in party wall issues. Contact us on 01892 652213 or email firstname.lastname@example.org discuss your situation and for a quote.
Please note: this information is intended for general information purposes and should not be seen as professional advice. It is important to talk directly to an RICS accredited Building Surveyor and/or Architectural Designer to discuss your individual circumstances.