PARTY WALL MATTERS

Party Wall and Neighbourly Matters

The Party Wall Act 1996 provides a legal framework and procedures, put in place in order to safeguard the interests of building owners and adjoining owners when undertaking certain types of work. The Act covers three distinct types of work; alterations to party structures, the construction of new walls at the boundary and excavation close to neighbouring buildings.

Cardoe Martin have extensive experience of acting on behalf of both Building Owners and Adjoining Owners, within residential and commercial sectors. This experience in Party Walls enables our developer clients to progress complex schemes swiftly and efficiently, while our work for Adjoining Owners ensures their interests and rights are safeguarded when affected by notifiable works.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the definition of a party wall?

In the simplest terms, a party wall is a structure or wall which sits at or astride a boundary between two neighbouring properties, and can be a house wall between neighbours, a garden wall structure, or a structural wall forming a boundary as part of a shed or outbuilding. There are other types of works which are covered under the same Act, including excavation and works to build new structural walls at or astride a boundary, and works between differently owed floor levels (such as within a block of flats) where the shared structural elements between the ceiling and floor above are considered a ‘party structure’. Detailed advice is available here

Why does a property owner need to appoint a surveyor?

You may need to appoint a surveyor to review your plans and serve the correct notices on your behalf, handle neighbours’ responses to notices and negotiate party wall awards if you are a building owner.

If you receive a notice from your neighbour or are concerned by plans for works by a neighbour which you think may fall under the Party Wall Act, then you may need to speak to a surveyor or appoint one to act for you. Your surveyor will ensure that the neighbours consider risk to your property and made adequate provisions to protect your property in any party wall award. This will usually include ensuring a schedule of condition is carried out to assist in the event of damage by the neighbouring works.

What is party wall notice?

A party wall notice is a formal notice setting out a property owners’ intent to carry out works which affect shared walls and boundaries between land and buildings. It is important to ensure a notice served is accurate in accordance with the legislation.

Is a garden wall a party wall?

If a wall is not part of a building and forms a line between two areas of land owned by different landowners then it constitutes a party wall. The exception is when this is a wooden fence. 

How long can a party wall dispute take?

Under the 1996 Party Wall Act, consent is required within a set period of days depending on the type of notice, generally 14 days, otherwise the parties are considered to be in dispute. If a party wall award is needed, this will add time to the process and delay starting any works which affect the party walls or boundaries. Serving notices early will ensure you can have the formalities discharged before you start your works.

Do loft conversions need a party wall agreement?

Terraced and semi-detached properties will almost always require a party wall agreement for a loft conversion.

What if there was no party wall agreement?

If you have not completed the works you are required to stop and cannot continue until the full notice period has been given. Your neighbour may seek to enforce legal action to cease works and such actions can lead to high costs and potential need to change your design or works to comply with the legislation.

Can I continue if I was not aware that I needed to give notice and the contractor has commenced work?

NO. As the work began without notice being given, it is not lawful.

If you have not completed the works you are required to stop and cannot continue until the full notice period has been given. 

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