Party Wall FAQs

Everything you need to know about Party Wall

At Jarman Ward, our Party Wall Surveyors are experienced at representing both building owners and adjoining owners in all party wall-related matters. We offer straight-forward, impartial advice on issues such as party wall notices, schedules of condition, party wall agreements and party wall awards. Our surveyors will help you navigate the process, ensuring the interests and rights of all parties are protected.

If work is to be carried out involving a party wall, boundary wall or excavation close to neighbouring buildings, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 may apply. The Act is in place to provide a mechanism for neighbours to avoid and resolve disputes. 

Two main types of party wall are recognised by the act:

Type A – A wall standing astride a boundary belonging to two or more different owners.

Type B – A wall standing wholly on one owner’s land but separating the buildings of two or more owners.

If your building is terraced or semi-detached, it is likely you have a party wall. The act also covers garden walls (but not wooden fences) that are built on property boundaries.

Building owners have a duty to inform all adjoining owners that they intend to carry out work covered by the Act. The notice needs to include all relevant information set out in the act or the notice could be open to a challenge in Court. Depending on the type of work to be undertaken, at least one or two months’ notice needs to be given.

If the Adjoining Owners do not provide written consent, the parties may decide to appoint a single Agreed Surveyor to act impartially. It is the Agreed Surveyor’s role to draw up a Party Wall Award.  

Alternatively, Adjoining Owners may appoint their own surveyor to work with the Building Owner’s surveyor to agree the Award. Should the parties be unable to reach an agreement, or if either of the owners request it, the two appointed surveyors will appoint a Third Surveyor to make an award. 

If the Adjoining Owner refuses or fails to appoint a surveyor, the Building Owner may appoint a second surveyor on their behalf. 

This is a legally binding document drawn up between the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner’s surveyors, the Agreed Party Wall Surveyor or the Third Surveyor if one is appointed. The Award sets out the works to be carried out and commonly includes drawings, schedules of condition, as well as agreements regarding access and financial protection.

Section 2 of the Act sets out a Building Owner’s rights when it comes to party walls. The list below includes the most commonly exercised party wall rights:

  • to repair a party wall
  • to insert a damp proof course
  • to underpin the whole thickness of a party wall (for example, to prevent settlement)
  • to cut into a party wall to take the bearing of a beam (for example for a loft
  • conversion).
  • to raise the height of a party wall (for example, adding another storey).
  • to extend a party wall downwards (for example, to form a basement)
  • to demolish and rebuild a party wall (for example, if it is structurally defective).
  • to underpin the whole thickness of a party wall (for example, to form a basement)
  • to cut off projections from a party wall (or from an adjoining owner’s boundary or
  • external wall) if necessary to build a new wall adjacent to that wall (for example,
  • removing a chimney breast).

The Adjoining Owner or Owners could be one or more people or companies. The act identifies owners as freeholders, leaseholders with a lease longer than one year, those under contract to purchase the freehold or leasehold title and those entitled to receive rent from the property. This makes it essential to ensure the Building Owner identifies all Adjacent Owners.

Ideally the Building Owner and Adjoining owner would have informally talked through the proposed works before formal notice is given, so the notice should not come as surprise.

After receiving the letter, you may either:

  • consent in writing to the proposed works
  • refuse to consent to the proposed works
  • give a counter-notice
  • do nothing

By providing your consent to the works you are confirming that you are not disputing the works at that point in time. The option to appoint surveyors still remains open should issues arise at a later date. 

If you refuse to consent to the works, all parties should appoint an Agreed Surveyor, or alternatively, each party may appoint their own surveyor. If you do nothing within 14 days of receiving a letter, a dispute is deemed to have arisen. 

A counter-notice sets out the work the Adjoining Owner would like carried out for his own benefit. You should let the Building Owner know within 14 days if you intend to respond with a counter-notice.

Where necessary for the works to be carried out in pursuance of the Act, Adjoining Owners must grant access to workmen, surveyors, architects etc. The Building Owner must give 14 days’ notice, except in an emergency.

The Act grants certain rights to Adjoining Owners including:

  • the right to appoint a surveyor
  • the right to be compensated for loss or damaged caused by the works
  • the right to not suffer any unnecessary inconvenience

The rights granted by the Act to you as an Adjoining Owner apply regardless of whether or not you agree to the works.

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