What is a Party Wall? Most Important Party Wall Questions Answered
Using our guide for most important party wall questions can help you avoid any disputes or issues with your neighbor. Disputes over a party wall can be easily avoided if you know your facts. By nature, they can be a subject prone to confusion, but by understanding the basic rules and regulations surrounding party walls can help you save time and money.
The Party Wall Act 1996 is the act that provides the framework for preventing and solving disputes in relation to party walls, party fence walls and excavations near neighboring buildings or structures.
The Party Wall can be a wall that is part of one building which separates two or more buildings, or can the the garden wall that lies between two owners (known as a Party Fence Wall). Basically, is the structure on the boundary of land which belongs to two different owners.
This article will cover:
- What is the Party Wall Act?
- What is a Party Wall?
- What is a Party Wall Notice?
- What is a Party Wall Award?
- Who is the Building Owner in the Party Wall Act?
- Who is the Adjoining Owner in the Party Wall Act?
- Do You Need to Serve A Notice if You Work on the Shared Walls?
- Do You Need to Appoint A Party Wall Surveyor?
- What a Party Wall Surveyor will do?
- Can the Party Wall be Amended?
- Can a Party Wall Award expire?
- Can a Party Wall Award be Applied Retrospectively?
- Works have Commenced Without A Party Wall Notice or Award being Served, What are My Rights?
The Party Wall Notice starts the Party Wall process and depends on the type of work is required. A notice can be served under Section 1, Section 3 or section 6 of the Party Wall Act 1996.
Section 1 Notice – “Building on or adjacent the boundary line”
Section 3 Notice – “Building works to a Party Wall or Party Fence Wall”
Section 6 Notice – “Excavations within 3 metres of a neighbouring building or excavations with 6 metres of a neighbouring building where the excavations will bisect an imaginary line drawn at 45 degrees from the neighbouring foundations.
The Party Wall Award is the final document in the Party Wall process and ensures that adjacent owners receive appropriate legal protection in the event of damage caused by work. The award is also known as the Party Wall Agreement.
The party who owns the property where the building works are due to be carried out is considered as the Building Owner in the Party Wall Act.
The party who is potentially affected by the works on the common wall is considered as the Adjoining Owner in the Party Wall Act 1996.
Need A Free Estimate?
Yes, you will need to notify your neighbours if you intend to carry any work to the Party Wall. It is compulsory to serve notices if the said works are covered under the Act, for example if you plan an extension which will affect the Party Wall.
If the notices are not consented to, then an award (agreement) will need to be drawn by a Surveyor.
It is recommended to appoint a surveyor at least 2 – 3 months before the work should start. This will allow enough time for the administration of the Party Wall Act or any delays which can occur if are no responses received.
Usually, the service of notice takes 14 days, followed by a further 10 day letter if no answer is heard. Therefore, having a surveyor appointed 8 to 10 weeks before the week should commence would give you plenty of time for any issues and would not affect your starting date for building work.
The Surveyor will offer the best course of action when comes to serve a Party Wall notice and will offer professional advice on the obligations, responsibilities and procedure. An chartered surveyor will always first review the proposed plans and confirm if the works meets the criteria under the Act and if the relevant Party Wall notices are served to all affected neighbours.
If the notices are dissented to, then the surveyor will conduct a site visit and prepare a schedule of condition of neighbouring property and will finalize the terms of the Party Wall Award. Once this is done, it will serve this forthwith to all owners at which time building works can commence.
Yes, but should be brought to the attention of the surveyor at first instance. You have the right to appeal the Award at the County Court within 14 days of service of the Award, but this needs to not be taken lightly as there may be costs if is proven to be unsuccessful.
The notice is valid for one year, however, the minimum notice should be served two months prior to your intended start of date to allow sufficient time for the work of surveyors to be completed if there is a dispute.
Short answer would be no, unless is a mutual agreement between both owners. Is important to noted that works commencing before a valid notice is served and if eventually is required a Party Wall Award, this situation can lead to an injunction.
An Injunction is a court order which tells the other party to stop the thing in question, and if fails to do so, they could be punished by being imprisoned or fined. However, if the person who applies for an injunction does so incorrectly or without sufficient justification, they could be ordered to pay damages or to become liable for all the resultant costs.
If your neighbour has commenced works that are notifiable under the Party Wall Act without serving the appropriate valid notices then a temporary injunction can be applied for at the County Court by the Adjoining Owner (neighbouring property).
This will mean that a court order prevents works from continuing until a Surveyor/s has been appointed to finalise a Party Wall Award. Unfortunately, an injunction can be costly for the Building Owner carrying out works for failure to follow due legislation.