Party Walls Act info

What is a party wall?

It is a wall or structure which separates adjoining buildings or a free-standing wall which sits astride the boundary of two adjoining properties. This could take many forms cg. it could be a floor separating two storeys of a building, i.e. two flats.

Party Wall Act etc. 1996

The Party Wall Act sets out rights and obligations placed upon building owners in relation to work carried out on Party Walls and excavations within 6 metres of a neighbouring building.

What works would the Act cover?

  • Erection, demolition or alteration of party structures cg. walls, floors, chimney stacks.
  • Works adjacent to or attached to a party structure eg. excavations.
  • Works using a party structure for support.

What must you do if you propose to carry out work covered by the Act?

You must issue requisite notices to the adjoining owner(s) describing the work you wish to undertake. You may appoint a party wall surveyor to do this on your behalf. An award will also need to be prepared together with a schedule of condition where appropriate arid be agreed by both parties.

When must a notice be issued?

A notice for work on a Party Wall must be issued at least 2 months before work commences. A notice for excavations must be issued at least 1 month before work commences.

What can happen if the building owner fails to follow the requirements of the Act?

The adjoining owner can obtain an injunction to halt the works. The building owner must then follow procedures laid down by the Act. Thus a considerable delay in completing the work may occur.

What course of action is open to adjoining owners upon receiving a Party Wall Act notice?

They can appoint their own party wall surveyor whose fees will normally be paid by the building owner serving the notice.

They may give consent in writing within 14 days of receiving the notice.

They may issue a counter notice requesting additional works that they require for their own purposes. The additional work must he paid for by the adjoining owner.

They may object to the proposed works. If no response (in writing) is made within 14 days a dispute is deemed to have arisen.

What happens if a dispute occurs?

Both parties may agree upon the appointment of a single surveyor, known as the 'Agreed Surveyor'. If both parties cannot agree on the appointment of a Joint surveyor, they may each appoint their own surveyor. The two surveyors will then appoint a third surveyor who may be called upon to adjudicate if an agreement cannot be reached.

Who may act as a Surveyor?

The term 'surveyor' is defined in the Act as ,any person not being party to the matter'. For example this would exclude the building contractor and designer. In order to protect owners and adjoining owners, the person appointed as surveyor should be experienced in party wall matters to ensure the dispute is resolved in accordance with the Act.

The above is from a leaflet produced by NPS of County Hall, Martineau Lane, Norwich, Norfolk NR1 2SF, Telephone: 01603 222552,

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