What is Party Wall?
A Party Wall is a wall which divides property, usually semi-detached, terraced or apartments and is often referred to as a shared wall, and is deemed to be a Party Wall if it meets certain criteria. The term Party Wall is defined more formally in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
The Party Wall Act
The Party Wall Act defines the property owner who wants to carry out works as the building owner and the property owner who is notified about the works as the adjoining owner. The Act sets out two types of party wall.
A Type A Party Wall sits astride the boundary which divides properties belonging to two different owners. It may:
• Be part of a building, for example, a terraced house or
• Separate two or more buildings or
• Divide land only – this is called a Party Fence Wall.
Note that despite the name this does not refer to a fence, it refers only to an external masonry wall.
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Why are Party Walls important?
Party Walls usually only have any significance when the owner on one side wants to make alterations to the wall, for example, to build an extension, fit cavity wall insulation or carry out excavations near a retaining wall. At this stage, the wall becomes important because without going through the process to seek consent from the owners of the property on the other side, no work can be carried out on the wall. The consent needs to be in writing, and it is referred to as a Party Wall Agreement. If you are not sure whether you need a Party Wall Agreement, it is best to seek professional advice from a party wall expert.
Process for obtaining a Party Wall Agreement
We would usually recommend that you broach the subject of the planned works in an informal chat with your neighbours in adjoining properties. This gives you the chance to explain what you plan to do, and why, and understand from them whether they have any concerns about your proposals. You may be able to give them answers straightaway which allay their concerns. Fostering good relations with your neighbours will often help to make the whole project run more smoothly. You are more likely to get your proposed work agreed to without the need for a Party Wall Award, and more likely to get their cooperation which could be needed at times on the project, such as if access to their property is required.
Following on from any informal conversations about the proposed works, the next step is to provide details in writing to the owners of all adjoining properties which will be affected. This is done using a Party Wall Notice.
How does it affect you?
Further information for Building Owners / Landlords
Further information for Property Owners with adjoining walls
Questions & Answers
Read our frequently asked questions and answers
What are Party Wall Notices?
A Party Wall Notice is a document used to inform adjoining neighbours of your intention to carry out works to a Party Wall. There isn’t a standard form available, although you can find templates to fill in online. You can also get help with drafting a Party Wall Notice from a specialist party wall expert. Key information which must be included in a Party Wall Notice includes:
- Details of the proposed works (ideally including copies of drawings and plans)
- The names and addresses of the building owner and the adjoining owners involved.
- The proposed start date for the works
- Details of the properties affected
- The date the Party Wall Notice was served.
A Party Wall Notice must be served by the building owner when any works are planned which will impact the party wall shared with adjoining properties. A Party Wall Notice must be served to the owners of all adjoining properties affected by the alterations. For exterior works a six metre or three metre notice may be required before excavations may be carried out.
When is a Party Wall Notice not necessary?
Should a Party Wall Surveyor serve Party Wall Notices?
You can serve a Party Wall Notice yourself, but you may prefer to use the professional services of party wall experts, such as the RICS accredited surveyors at Oakfield Chartered Surveyors. The notice needs to be served to the owners of adjoining properties, not tenants. You can serve notice by hand, by post or by email.
After you have served the notice, the adjoining property owners have 14 days to respond. At the end of the 14 days you will have one of the following outcomes:
• Consent from your adjoining property’s owner or
• A dissent from your adjoining neighbour or
• No response at all from the adjoining owner.
If the adjoining owner fails to respond by the end of the 14-day period, this is treated as a refusal to give consent. The next stage for progressing your project is to agree a Party Wall Surveyor, who will draft a Party Wall Award. According to the Party Wall Act, anyone who has not been acting for you in connection with your works can take on the role of Party Wall Surveyor. Under the Act, impartiality is the key criterion. However, we would always advise that you appoint someone with expertise in party wall matters so that all parties can be confident that the Party Wall Award is being prepared correctly.
Party Wall Award
Costs for a Party Wall Agreement
The cost of getting an agreement to go ahead with work to a Party Wall will vary depending on several factors. If the adjoining owners are amenable to your plans and give their consent in writing you can avoid the need to involve more surveyors. However, if the adjoining owners have objections, you will have to pay considerably more in surveyor fees. You are liable for the fees if the adjoining owners choose to appoint their own surveyor, and you will have to pay the fees of an impartial Party Wall Surveyor.
Our surveyors at Oakfield Chartered Surveyors have many years of experience in managing Party Wall issues. With offices in Beaconsfield and London, we support clients with party wall issues across London and the home counties. Whether you are a building owner or an adjoining owner, we can advise you on the best way through the process. Contact Oakfield Chartered Surveyors to find out more about how we can help you.