If you live in a semi-detached or terrace house you share a wall (or walls) with your neighbour that is known as the party wall. It separates buildings belonging to different owners. Where a wall separates two different sized buildings, only the part that is used by both properties is considered to be a party wall. The rest belongs to the person on whose land it stands. You must get your neighbours agreement before you can start any building work such as: Extensions, damp proofing works, some internal refurbishment, structural alterations.
In some cases, excavating or constructing foundations for a new building within three or six metres of neighbouring properties will also need written agreement.
Since the Party Wall etc Act 1996 came into force, homeowners in England and Wales have had a procedure to follow when building work involves a party wall or party fence wall. The Act is designed to minimise disputes by making sure property owners use a surveyor to determine the time and way in which work is carried out. You can use an agreed surveyor to act for both property owners should problems arise. The Act allows you to carry out work on or next to a shared wall. At the same time protecting the interests of anyone else who might be affected by that work.
The Act doesn't cover every day minor jobs that don't affect the neighbours half of a party wall including: Fixing plugs Screwing in wall units or shelving. Adding or replacing some recessed electrical wiring or sockets. Re-plastering your walls.
There are some things that you can only do to a party wall with the written agreement of the adjoining owner including: Cutting into a wall to take the bearing of a beam, for example, for a loft conversion. Inserting a damp proof course all the way through a wall. Raising the whole party wall and, if necessary, cutting off any objects stopping this from happening. Demolishing and rebuilding the party wall. Underpinning the whole or part of a wall. Protecting adjoining walls by cutting a flashing into an adjoining building. Building a new wall on the line of junction between two properties. Excavating foundations within three metres of an adjoining structure and lower than its foundations. Excavating foundations within six metres of an adjoining structure and below a line drawn down at 45 degrees from the bottom of its foundations.
If you intend to do any of these things, you must give written notice to your neighbours at least two months before starting any part wall works. Or one month for line of junction or excavation works. If a tenant or leaseholder is in the building next door, you will need to tell the landlord, as well as the person living in the property, that you want to carry out building work to the party wall. Where there is more than one owner of the property or more than one adjoining property, you must let them know too. Don't forget to give written notice to the owners and occupiers living either above or below your property. If possible, talk to your neighbours in detail about the work you want to do before giving them an official written notice. If you can sort out any potential problems in advance, they should give you written agreement in response to your notice, which they must do within 14 days.
The solution the Act provides is for both parties to each appoint a surveyor or agreed surveyor who will act impartially. The surveyor will draw up a document called an Award. This details the work to be carried out, when and how it will be done and records the condition of the adjoining property before work begins. It may also grant access to both properties so the surveyor can inspect work in progress. The Award will determine who pays for the work if this is in dispute. Generally, the building owner who started the work pays for all expenses.
Marshalls offer a full range of Party Wall services across Oxfordshire and West Berkshire. We are frequently appointed under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 to act for parties carrying out works and those affected by neighbouring works. Our experienced and specialist Party Wall Surveyor, Daniel Stephens BSc (hons) MRICS MFPWS, is a Chartered Building Surveyor and a member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors. If you have received party wall notices from your neighbour or you are planning to carry out works which may come under the Party Wall etc. Act, please feel free to get in touch so that we can advise you of your options.
As a Building Owner looking to undertake alterations or an extension to your property, Marshalls can:
As an Adjoining Owner having received notice(s) under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, Marshalls can: