Party walls

Chris Jude of Building Surveyors Limited discusses the importance of being neighbourly when it comes to party walls

As a result of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, no land owner within England and Wales can carry out works to their property which might affect a neighbour’s property, without first complying with the provisions of the act.

What does the act cover?

The act covers a statutory regime governing the relationship between adjoining owners and regulating certain building work carried out on or near to the boundary between two adjoining properties.

There are three types of work covered by the 1996 act:

  1. The construction of party structures on or at a boundary where there is no existing party structure. This part of the act contemplates two different types of work. First, a new wall may be built up to the boundary line but wholly on the land of the building owner. Or, second, astride the boundary line, i.e. with part of it on each owners’ side. In each case, the building owner must serve notice to the adjoining owner at least one month before he intends to carry out the work.
  2. Works to existing party structures. This part of the act applies where there is already a structure at the boundary and the building owner wishes to carry out works to the structure. Works to a party wall may include demolition, repair or alteration. The building owner must serve notice to the adjoining owner at least two months before the proposed works are due to commence.
  3. Excavations within six metres of other buildings or structures. This part of the act does not relate to party structures but instead applies to excavations within six metres of the adjoining owner’s building or structure. Within such a distance, excavations could adversely affect the adjoining owner’s foundations. In both cases, the building owner must serve notice one month prior to the intended commencement of works.

Failure to comply with the Party Wall Act

It is not uncommon for a building owner to do or propose work affecting a party wall which is not authorised by the act. In such cases, the adjoining owner may wish to insist that the building owner complies with the Act before proceeding with the work. Alternatively, if the work has already been carried out and the adjoining owner has received damage, he will have claims at common law, for example, nuisance, negligence or trespass.

What will your surveyors do?

As chartered building surveyors for the developer we advise on the rights imposed and obligations conveyed by the act, identify which elements of the proposed works fall within the remit of the act and which do not, identify ownership interests in adjoining properties, prepare and serve notices, prepare and agree schedules of condition and party wall awards and resolve any issues of damage or compensation.

For adjoining owners, we advise on the validity of notices received, consider details of works proposed to ensure that proposals are appropriate and will avoid causing unnecessary inconvenience, check and agree schedules of condition, negotiate the terms of party wall awards and ensure that the building owner fulfils his statutory obligations.

 

Building Surveyors Limited regularly acts as party wall surveyor for both residential and commercial building owners affected by the Party Wall Act

www.buildingsurveyorsltd.co.uk

@BuildingsLtd

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