Party Wall Awards and Surveys
What work falls under the Part Wall Act 1996? (Notifiable work)
Work on existing party walls:
- inserting load bearing beams
- changing the height of the party wall
- adding a damp proof course
Excavating foundations for a new building:
- Building up to or astride the boundary line
- footings within 6 metres of an adjoining owner’s structure and below a 45° line from the bottom of the foundations
- Excavations within 3 metres and at a greater depth than the foundations of an adjoining owner’s property.
Garden walls (party fence walls):
- Brick walls (not wooden fences)
What is a Party Wall Award?
An Award is a document that is legally binding, it authorises the execution of building work where is is covered the act. It is the product of a Party Wall Survey. It protects the adjoining owners property by ensuring that reasonable and necessary measures are taken. It also states measures to prevent unnecessary inconvenience and allows for compensation if the notifiable works cause any damage or loss.
Please see our further reading page.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
The act provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes between owners of neighbouring properties in relation to work on or close to a party wall. The purpose of the Party Wall Act is to ensure that adjoining owners do not suffer loss or damage to their property as a direct result of the building owner’s actions. The Party Wall Act states that if any damage is caused to an Adjoining Owner’s property, it must be remedied at the expense of the Building Owner. For a detailed guide on the act please see our further reading page.
How do I protect myself from spurious damage claims from my neighbour?
When a Party Wall Award is drawn up it commonly includes a schedule of condition. This normally consists of a summary of the condition of the neighbours property and a series of photos and sometime a video. This prevents the adjoining neighbour from claiming that damage that was pre-existing was caused by the notifiable work.
Can my neighbour have access to my property for their work?
The Party Wall Act allows reasonable access to adjoining owners land by building owners to allow work to be carried out on party walls and fences.
The Party Wall Act cannot resolve a boundary dispute but it can help to avoid issues arising down the line.
Party Wall Notices
What is a party Wall Notice?
A notice that describes the work being carried out and requests adjoining owners consent. It can take the following forms:
- Party Structure Notice
- Alterations to an existing party wall
- Notice of Adjacent Excavation
- Foundations or excavation near a neighbours building.
- Line of Junction Notice
- The construction of a new wall adjacent to or astride a boundary.
- NOTE - Building a new wall astride the boundary can be prevented by the adjoining owner under the act.
What work can I carry out without a Party Wall Notice?
Generally it best to check with a professional to make sure that the work that you are doing is not covered by the Party Wall Act. However putting up shelves, wall units, insertion wall fixings and Replacing electrical sockets is normally fine. In most cases, chasing walls to allow for rewiring or plumbing is allowable.
Can I consent to to my neighbours work without a Party Wall Award?
Yes you can, but will lose the benefit of a Surveyor(s) to resolve a dispute if any damage occurs as a result of notifiable works. You will normal protection under common law, but recovering damage through this method is likely to be expensive and lengthly.
I've received a notice, I own my property what should I do?
You have 14 days to consider how to proceed. If you do not respond or appoint a surveyor within this time period another 10 day notice will be served, requesting that you do. Your options are:
- Consent to the Notice:
- if you are happy that there will be no damage or consequences to your property, then you may consent and the work can proceed.
- Dissent to the Notice:
- appoint your own surveyor who will liaise with the building owner’s surveyor to prepare an award authorising the proposed works.
- concur to an agreed surveyor if you are happy for a single surveyor to represent you and your neighbour.
I have planning permission, do I still need to serve a Party Wall Notice?
Even with planning permission you will need to serve a Party Wall Notice to the adjoining owner. This is a legal obligation under the act.
Can anyone serve a Party Wall Notice?
A building owner can serve a notice, but any errors in the notice can make it invalid which in turn can lead to delays and legal expenses later on. For this reason It is far less risky to use a professional Party Wall Surveyor
Do I have to serve a Party Wall Notice?
If the work you intend to carry out is notifiable then you it is a legal legal requirement to do so. Ignoring this can lead to expense, delays and legal costs and your work can be stopped by the adjoining owners through a court injunction.
Who pays for the Party Wall Surveys and Award?
All Party Wall costs are the responsibility of the building owner undertaking the works. The appointed surveyors determine the reasonableness of the costs. This can proportionate when work is to the benefit of both parties.
How are costs calculated if there is a problem?
If there is damage caused by the notifiable works then the surveyor(s) will award the adjoining owner reasonable labour and materials costs to remedy the situation.
What should I expect from builders?
If you are having work done on your home you should be provided with:
- References and a good reputation!
- Plans and engineering calculations
- A schedule for works
- Details of insurance cover during the works
- Any guarantees offered on the work.
My neighbour is carrying out alterations, is damage to my property likely?
There is always risk but each situation is unique. A Party Wall Award sets out necessary measures to protect your property. As part of the process generally a surveyor will check engineer’s calculations, analyse the plans and carry out a schedule of condition of your property prior to work commencing. This protects both you and your neighbour if anything was to go wrong.
How do I make sure that I am insured?
Generally your building insurance will not cover you for the construction period of your work.
- Ensure that the building company has insurance that covers both you and you neighbour(s) during construction.
- Notify your building insurance provider when the work commences and when it finishes. It's possible that your insurance will increase on completion.
- Get details of any guarantees that the building company offers on the work and ensure that it covers claims from the neighbour(s) as well as your own.
Have you received letters in the post?
Unscrupulous surveyors engage customers by monitoring building work in their area, then sending unsolicited letters to the neighbours that state things like "your property could be at risk". In our industry these are termed 'ambulance chasers' and they can mislead homeowners, applying pressure to sign up for costly and often unnecessary services. If this as happened, read around the subject and find a professional Party Wall Surveyor who doesn't use these tactics. For a no obligation discussion on your circumstances contact us.
My neighbour is carrying out some work on their house.
If your neighbour is building a house extension or converting their loft then if this has an impact on a shared wall they need to have issued you with a party wall notice.
You have the right to request that the work is stopped until they have done this and due process has been followed. For advice on this contact us or call us on 020 3393 3744.
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