What is a Party Wall Act?
The Party Wall Act 1996 provides a legislative procedure to follow when building works are due to affect any walls, boundaries or structures that are shared with neighbors. The Act is in place to ensure that homeowners notify neighbors of proposed works and receive consent to go ahead. Where consent is not obtained or neighbors do not reply at all, the Act provides means to resolve disputes and enable progression.
What building works are included in the Party Wall Act.?
Some loft conversions and most house extensions will require a party wall agreement. The most common works that need consent include:
Cutting into a wall to support the bearing of a new beam
Inserting a damp proof course
Raising a party wall or increasing it’s thickness
Demolishing and rebuilding a party wall
Excavating foundations within 3 metres of a neighboring building
Underpinning a party wall
Your architect will be able to advise if a party wall agreement is necessary or not.
How do I serve notice to my neighbors?
You need to send a letter to the owners of your neighboring properties, outlining your building plans. The letter must include the following details:
-The date the notice has been served on
-The name and address of the property owner
-The date the works are due to start
-The details of the proposed work, including plans and construction methods
When do I need to give notice?
You need to serve party wall notice to neighbors at least 2 months before the planned start date of construction. If served late, then your neighbor has the legal right to stop your building work once it is in progress.
If my neighbor consents?
Building works are free to start on the planned date. One must be aware though that a neighbor retains the right to appoint a surveyor at any point during the building phase if a dispute arises
If my neighbor doesn’t reply?
If your neighbor doesn’t get back to you within 14 days, then it is advisable to approach them directly to check their view on the proposal. This will help avoid delays if the other parties are not actually in dispute.
If my neighbor doesn’t give consent?
If an adjoining neighbor dissents, then the Party Wall Act provides a resolution procedure to follow. In this instance, you will need to send a letter to your neighbor stating the need for them to appoint a party wall surveyor within 10 days. Both parties can jointly agree on one shared surveyor or independently appoint a surveyor each, who will then work in conjunction to draw up an agreement. The surveyor(s) has a responsibility to be impartial and take into consideration the interests of both parties when writing the agreement.
In the agreement, the surveyor(s) will include details on:
What is being built and what the project will look like when finished (complete with architectural plans)
How the project will be built
The condition of the adjoining property prior to building works
The working hours of the building team
Proof of homeowner and contractor insurance
A timeline for completion
Property access for surveyors
It is expected that the homeowner having the work done will pay all surveyor fees including those of the adjoining neighbor.
Once the final agreement has been signed off by the surveyors, both parties will have a 14 day window to appeal should they take issue with any of the agreement details.
Property Makeover Ltd
As part of our service at Property Makeover Ltd, we offer expert advice and guidance on all party wall related matters and are on hand to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.