Party Wall Agreements – What You Need to Know

Keeping on good terms with your neighbours is always a good thing – after all, you never know when you might need to ask a favour. And having a good relationship is always the best starting point if you are going to be having work done to your property.

The purpose of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is to put a framework in place in which issues over party wall matters can be resolved without expensive legal action between neighbours. It is written to assist building owners to accomplish their proposed work and at the same time give protection to the adjoining owners insofar as they may be affected.1

Party Wall Agreements

What notice do you need?

The main types of party wall notice are:

1. Work on an existing party wall or party structure i.e. installing steel beams, raising the height of the wall for a loft conversion.
2. A new wall astride or up to the line of junction (the boundary).
3. Excavations within certain distances of a neighbour’s property

It can get a little complicated. Some works will require several notices to be served. And in some instance if your neighbour is a leaseholder you will also need to serve notice to the owner of the freehold.

Tip: Always, always, always talk to your neighbour first and make them aware of your plans.

It’s the perfect opportunity to discuss any issues informally and ensure there is little or no resistance when you formally present the notice.

For work on an existing party wall two months’ notice should be given before work commences. And for a new wall, you should give one month’s notice. The notice is valid for one year – if you haven’t started work in that time, you will need to go through the entire notice period again.

If you don’t receive consent you are considered to be ‘in dispute’, at which point you will need to appoint a surveyor who will work on behalf of both you and your neighbour, or you can both appoint separate surveyors. Which is where Home-Approved comes in.

How Home-Approved can help

Unfortunately, a Party Wall Agreement is not something that you can legally arrange yourself, no matter how friendly you may be with your neighbour and how agreeable they may be to your plans. A surveyor, structural engineer or architect, who may also oversee the work on your behalf, must be appointed and is expected to act impartially. As building surveyors we are experienced in party wall procedures and can arrange your Party Wall Agreement.

We will prepare a document comprising the following:

  • The correct notices, relevant to the intended works
  • The Party Wall Agreement (also known as the ‘award’), which is essentially a legal document detailing how the proposed works should be carried out
  • A ‘schedule of condition’ of the adjoining property, vital in the event that any damage occurs during the works

Other information to be included is:

  • Details of the two properties, the owners and the property addresses
  • An outline of the proposed works
  • Access and working hours for the building contractors
  • Details of the appointed contractor’s public liability insurance
  • Indemnities to protect the interests of the adjoining owner
  • Access for the surveyor during the works.

The Party Wall Agreement must be signed and witnessed and copies sent to yourself as the property owner and to your neighbour, the adjoining owner. A copy must also be given to your contractor.

If you’re planning to build an extension or need to carry out works on an existing party wall, why not give us a call on 0800 980 3113 or email info@home-approved.com.

Party Wall Advice

1Party Wall etc. Act 1996 – An Easy Guide – Alex Frame