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is the Party Wall Act 1996 & What does the
Party Wall Act 1996 is a law and as such if you are
instigating building works to a wall shared with a
neighbour, building at or near the boundary line of
your property or excavating near a neighbouring building
it is your responsibility to be aware of the terms
of the Party Wall Act 1996 and follow its provisions.
Party Wall Act provides a framework for preventing
and resolving disputes in works carried out to Party
Walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring
who wishes to carry out work must give notice of what
they plan to do in writing to their neighbours even
if the works will not cross the centre line of the
adjacent owners can either agree to the works or disagree.
Generally if it is explained to them in a clear manner
they will agree, but the Act provides a framework
for the resolution of disputes.
can I get Government information on the Party Wall
your Local Building Control Department.
do I know if its a Party Wall?
your building shares the wall with your neighbours
property or your buildings wall sits astride a boundary.
The Act also applies to garden walls but does not
include wooden fences. If you are in any doubt about
the Act ask the person who is preparing the plans
for your extension about the Party Wall Act. Do not
ignore it will not go away.
am I likely to want to work on a Party Wall?
you want to build an extension over a garage, especially
when the dividing wall between the properties are
of single brick construction.
you want to do a loft conversion.
you want to underpin a wall.
you want to cut into a wall to take bearing for steelwork
you want to demolish and rebuild a Party wall.
you want to put flashing over to protect walls from
a higher to a lower wall.
should I do if I want to work on the Party Wall?
must inform the adjoining owner in writing of your
intentions. If you do not inform your neighbours in
the proper manner they are legally entitled to stop
the work and seek legal redress. You will probably
lose any resulting court action.
neighbour cannot stop you from working to a Party
Wall provided you have given them proper notice and
followed the terms of the Act. They can however influence
how and when the work is done. If you are instigating
the building works you must ensure they are done in
a manner that causes the minimum inconvenience, with
sufficient care to provide protection to the adjacent
property and provide for compensation where any damage
is caused to the neighbouring property.
should I Notify?
person or persons who lives in the adjacent property.
In the case of tenants or leaseholders it will be
necessary to inform the landlord as well.
do I inform the adjacent owners?
you do not have a professional advisor the best way
is to wait until you have had your plans prepared
for your extension or alteration and show them your
plans for what you intend to do. Explain how you do
not wish to cause them any inconvenience and how you
will take measures to protect their property from
any damage. Leave them a copy of the plans to look
at in their own time.
can then explain about how you have to give them notice
under The Party Wall Act in writing and hopefully
if you have already cleared up any possible snags
they will readily give consent under the notice. As
a helpful tip it may be a good idea to frame a response
letter for them to sign with a section asking for
their comments. If they are agreeable they then only
have to sign the response.
do I write the notice?
own name, address and the date.
buildings address if different.
statement that you are serving Notice of intention
to work on the Party Wall under the terms and conditions
of The Party Wall Act 1996.
description of what you intend to do including a set
of plans where appropriate.
date that you intend to start.
do I deliver the notice?
you have talked to them in advance deliver in person
and talk to them.
the adjacent premises are empty or the owner is not
known you may serve notice addressed to "The
Owner" and fix it to the front door.
Local Authority does not need a copy of this notice
or any reply, but it is essential for your own protection
that you keep your own copies.
do I serve the notice?
least 60 days before the planned starting date.
if you have handled it carefully your neighbour will
give their consent in writing. In which case provided
you keep them informed you can proceed with the work
when you are ready.
neighbour may serve you with a counter notice within
14 days expressing concerns. If you receive a counter
notice you must respond in writing within 14 days
or a dispute is regarded to have arisen.
after 14 days you have received no reply from your
neighbour a dispute is regarded to have arisen.
this point one would hope that you would not require
any further information on the Party Wall Act.
if I can't reach agreement?
to settle it with your neighbour by friendly discussion.
Provide them with a copy of the Government booklet
on the Party Wall Act 1996 the full 25 page copy.
Ensure that they have a copy of your plans.
this fails you are left with two alternatives.
can each jointly appoint an " agreed surveyor"
to draw up an " award." The terms of the
Act state that this should not be the person or company
that you have used to prepare your plans.
alternatively if it is getting very difficult each
of you can appoint your own surveyor to draw up an
award together. Provided the surveyors are competent
they should be able to agree an award but in the event
of the surveyors disagreeing they will then jointly
appoint a third surveyor to act as an arbiter.
surveyors appointed under the disputes resolution
procedures have a duty to act impartially and consider
the interests of both parties. They are not there
to argue the case for each side.
pays the fees?
surveyor or surveyor decide who pays the fees for
drawing up an award and checking that the work has
been carried out in accordance with the agreement.
Usually the owner who first planned the work will
pay all the costs concerned with drawing up the award.
the award final?
all intents and purposes yes.
pays for the Building work?
an award is made this is stated in the agreement.
Generally it is the person who wishes for the building
neighbour may pay for part of the cost when work to
a party wall is needed because of defects or lack
of repair for which the adjoining owner may be responsible.
where the adjoining owner requests that additional
work be done.
agreement has not been reached the disputes resolution
procedure may be used specifically to resolve questions
happens if my neighbours will not do anything?
a dispute has arisen and the neighbouring owner refuses
to appoint a surveyor. Again ensure that he has a
copy of the relevant booklets and a copy of the plans
and inform him that you intend to appoint a second
surveyor on his behalf within the next 14 days. If
you receive no reply to this appoint a second surveyor
on his behalf to allow the procedure to go ahead.
Remember to keep copies of all correspondence.
there anything else I should know?
information is available from the booklet provide
by the DETR whose address and telephone number are
at the top of this page. The Party Act 1996 is law
and should not be ignored. As the instigator of building
works it is your responsibility to know what is required
and that the provisions are followed.
is no defence.
you are still not sure use the pre-prepared notice
of intention to start building works and the reply
letter for your neighbour supplied below.
of the DETR booklet on the Party Wall Act 1996 are
available free of charge from:
Literature,PO Box 236, Wetherby, L23 7NB.