The party wall act was introduced to provide clarification on walls that are jointly owned and what can and can’t be done to these walls. In some instances altering a party wall can have unknown and severe consequences for the neighbour on the other side. For example, removing a chimney breast could destabilise the wall or your internal wall could be the neighbour’s external wall. The act helps clarify that both are responsible and work can be done as long as it doesn’t negatively impact the other.
The Party Wall Act is legislation meaning that a lot of work that will involve a party wall or excavating within 3m of one likely needs neighbours’ permission, or a party wall award, to make it legal. This needs to be done 2 months before any work is undertaken.
Party walls are typically shared walls between terraced or semi-detached houses, but the Act also applies to situations where excavations will take place near to borders of properties too, and that can affect multiple neighbours even. Any architectural professional should be able to help with this relatively easily, but it is something to consider before you undertake any work.
What Works Are Included?
While a range of different work can invoke the Party Wall act, the most common instances are when installing beams into party walls for loft conversions, digging foundations for house extensions, and then other things like underpinning for basements, damp-proof coursing, building walls on the boundary line, or up to it, and other things too.
What Works Are Not Included?
Not everything that affects a party wall will need to be thought out as others. Examples of things that don’t need a Party Wall agreement to be in place would be things such as electrical works, plastering, drilling, and other simple works.
How Do I Get a Party Wall Agreement?
So, when it actually comes to getting a party wall agreement, you need to provide your neighbour with the documentation that they need to decide on consenting or dissenting. This is referred to as the Party Wall Notice.
There are multiple forms available online that can be downloaded, but generally, you need to outline the work that you’re going to do, how it is going to be done, and then give them the information about the options that they have on the table (such as agreeing, or dissenting).
What Goes into the Party Wall Agreement?
The Party Wall Agreement between the parties involved will discuss things like a project timeline, who will be working on the project and what insurances they have, who is liable for what etc, as well as things like access and working hours too, all of which helps all parties to understand what the project actually entails and minimise any issues down the line. It can actually be a big help in that sense.
What Happens If a Neighbour Says No?
If your neighbour(s) dissent, or don’t reply to you after 14 days of issuing the paperwork (which is dissent by default), then the next stage of the process begins. This is where you and your neighbour(s) will need to hire an impartial surveyor to assess the situation on behalf of both parties.
They will then assess the situation and outline a resolution, both of which parties need to stick to. This comes at the expense of the person carrying out the work, and not at any cost to the neighbours. When this Party Wall Award is complete, work can then begin as outlined.