The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
A party wall is a wall shared by two properties, such as the wall which divides a pair of semi-detached houses, properties in a terrace, or similarly in a commercial or other building. The ‘Party Wall etc Act 1996’ applies throughout England and Wales. It was introduced to control the effect of works to a Party Wall and if required, govern disputes between property owners where work must be carried out to a party wall, or involves excavating close to a neighbouring building.
If you are undertaking work to your property, it is your responsibility to ensure you comply with the requirements of the Act. The Act covers:
o New Building works at, or astride the boundary between two properties.
o Structural work affecting an existing party wall, including repairs, alterations, extending or reducing the wall, cutting into the wall and underpinning, but not re-plastering or putting up shelves.
o Works to form a loft conversion and excavate a cellar to create a habitable room.
o Excavating, or constructing foundations within three metres of a neighbour's building where the new foundations will go deeper than the neighbour's.
o Excavating, or constructing foundations within six metres of a neighbour's building where the new foundations will cut a line drawn downwards at 45 degrees from the bottom of the neighbour's foundations.
If you are the owner proposing to have any of the above the works carried out you must find out whether the works are governed by the Act. If so, you must serve statutory notice (one or two months depending upon the works) on the adjoining owners and get agreement to the works, before you start. If your neighbour(s) do not agree in writing, the solution would be to appoint one surveyor to draw up a Party Wall Award per neighbour. If you cannot agree a surveyor, then each side should appoint their own surveyor. The Party Wall Award will set out what can and can't be done in accordance with the Act.
The Act is designed to allow matters to be agreed amicably and swiftly, and we can assist with this. Vicki is a qualified Party Wall Surveyor and a member of The Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors. We can provide Party Wall Surveyor services ourselves, and assist with the appointment of a separate Party Wall Surveyor where applicable.
As your Party Wall Surveyor we will serve the required notices (and would advise inclusion of a Schedule of Conditions), and if necessary, prepare a document setting out the rights and responsibilities of the respective owners called a Party Wall Award - this is a legally binding document. As well as a Schedule of Conditions of the property(ies) concerned, it will contain details of the planned works and guidelines on other matters such as permissible working hours and protective measures required. Party Wall Awards are generally fairly straightforward, and should be completed two months prior to construction commencing.
Vicki Turner is an Architect (BA(Hons) Dip. Arch. RIBA) and Party Wall Surveyor (MFPWS); a Member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors.
Please feel free to contact us concerning any work you or your neighbour are planning.