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Party Wall Surveys

PARTY WALL ACT 1996

Before any work has starts, you need to serve a formal notice on the owners of the adjoining property. The Party Wall Act prevents building work undertaken by one neighbour undermining the structural integrity of shared walls or neighbouring properties. It is also designed to avert and resolve potential disputes with neighbours.

The key things to remember are which walls constitute as ‘party walls’ and the type of work subject to the Act.

Walls and other built elements include:

floors and ceilings between flats

shared boundary walls, such as those between semis and terraced homes

any other walls which touch the boundary are covered.

Type of work

More extensive work is covered by the Party Wall Act. This includes:

converting a loft which includes cutting into boundary walls to support new beams

underpinning

inserting a damp-proof course

increasing the thickness

demolishing and rebuilding a party wall

extending above a storey which lies on the boundary

building a new wall for an extension, for example, up to or on the boundary

excavation work for new foundations, subject to condition (see below). You’ll need to assure your neighbour of the safeguards in place to protect their foundations.

Excavation Work for New Foundations

You must give Notice under the Party Wall Act if you’re excavating for new foundations deeper than the foundations of your neighbours’ home, within three metres of the boundary, or within six metres if a 45° will be formed between the bottom of your new foundations and those belonging to your neighbour.

If you are excavating near a neighbouring building then you need to give at least one month’s notice.

Your neighbour will have 14 days to provide written approval or rejection. Let them know a template is available for both options in the explanatory booklet.

If they provide approval, your Notice will be valid for a year to complete work

If they reject or do not respond within 14 days, then you’re deemed to be in dispute

What Happens if the Neighbours Object?

Talk to your neighbours and explain your plans in detail to reach an agreement.

If approval is impossible, then you will have to assign an ‘agreed surveyor’ or two surveyors to prepare a Party Wall Award. This ‘Award’ covers:

the work that can be carried out

how the works will proceed

timings

measures for preventing damage

the payment of surveyors’ fees

the current condition of both properties

most importantly, costs payable to the adjoining owner if damage occurs.

Is a Party Wall Notice Mandatory?

If things turn sour with your neighbour and they suspect that the work being carried out will adversely affect their home, they can seek a court injunction to stop you from continuing.

If you haven’t obeyed the Act and you cause major damage to your neighbour’s property, the judge can award compensation for any loss or damage resulting from the works, including legal costs.

An approved Notice is the only way to prevent this.