Everyone wants to keep on good terms with their neighbours. However, it doesn’t take much for party wall matters to cause issues and it’s worth making sure you’ve got an expert adviser on your side if they do. An independent chartered surveyor who specialises in The Party Wall Act can help ensure you follow protocol to try and avoid disputes arising, and to resolve these issues if they do.
What is a party wall?
Party walls sit on the land shared by two or more owners. They can either:
- Form part of a building e.g. the wall that separates semi-detached or terraced houses.
- Not form part of a building e.g. a garden wall (note that wooden fences are not considered party walls).
It’s also worth knowing that if a wall or structure is wholly on one person’s land but separates buildings with different owners this is also considered a party wall.
What is the Party Wall Act?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is relevant to houses in England and Wales. In a nutshell, its purpose is to prevent any building work that may compromise the integrity of shared walls.
With everything down in black and white, The Party Wall Act provides the legal basis for the prevention and resolution of disputes over party walls, boundaries and excavations around neighbouring buildings.
What is a Party Wall Notice?
In line with the Party Wall Act, you have to give your neighbours notice if you want to carry out works at/near a party wall. You need to do this before starting works but don’t need to have planning permission beforehand.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your neighbours before giving them notice so that they understand your plans and the document doesn’t come as a shock!
Do I need a Party Wall Agreement?
Once you’ve served a party wall notice, both you and your neighbour(s) will need to sign a party wall agreement before getting started on works.
Party wall agreements should be sought if you’re planning things such as:
- building a new wall at the boundary
- cutting into a party wall
- making a party wall taller, shorter, deeper or thicker
- removing chimneys from a party wall
- knocking down and rebuilding a party wall
- work to shared structures e.g. floors between flats
- building an extension above a party wall
- adding a new wall or structural bean that joins a party wall
Minor works that don’t require a party wall agreement include:
- drilling into the wall to e.g. put up a shelf, fit kitchen units
- adding/replacing wiring or electrical sockets
Do I need a party wall surveyor?
It is generally accepted that, due to the technical nature of the Party Wall Act, surveyors should be appointed to oversee the preparation and service of notices and awards. We help owners who are considering building works close to neighbouring properties and also for those who have been served notices under the Act.
The hope is that everyone understands and is happy with the plans and everything can go ahead without a hitch. However, there are times this is not the case.
We have years of experience on both sides of the Act and it is our duty to resolve party wall disputes in an impartial and practical way. We work hard to ensure disagreements are settled quickly and good neighbourly relationships are hopefully maintained.
Get in touch
To find out more about our party wall services, click here. Alternatively, if you’ve got any questions about party wall agreements or need advice regarding a party wall notice, please call us on 01962 880426 or fill out this short form. Our experienced team will be able to give you guidance on party wall matters. Our knowledgeable Chartered Surveyors have got years of experience in exactly this area and will be happy to help.