Party Walls Reading

Disputes related to party walls can be difficult to navigate as many homeowners are unclear about what their legal rights are and want to treat any disputes with sensitivity, in order to maintain positive relationships with their neighbours. At Oakfield Chartered Surveyors, our experienced and professional team can help with party wall disputes.

We ensure our clients understand their legal rights and help them to navigate any disputes or challenges related to a party wall quickly, professionally and efficiently. If you need to complete work on a party wall or would like to renovate your home, the following guide will cover everything you need to know.

What is a party wall?

A party wall stands astride land belonging to two or more owners. Party walls can either separate two buildings, for example, a terraced or semi-detached property, or is a party fence wall. A party fence wall is not technically part of the structure of a building but stands astride two pieces of land as a boundary, for example, a masonry wall (though it is important to note that wooden fences and hedges are not considered party fence walls.)

Party Wall Reading
Party Wall act

What is the legal guidance for party walls Reading?

On July 1st 1997, The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 came into force. The act provides a framework for how to complete development or work on a party wall whilst protecting each adjoining owner and occupier. The act also prevents building work that could harm or compromise the structural integrity of a party wall and prevents disputes between neighbours by providing legal guidance for parties to follow.

What work can be done under the Act without informing an adjoining owner?

You are not required to tell your neighbour about small changes or maintenance to your side of the party wall, such as painting or plastering, unless they directly ask you for information on these tasks.

Party Wall Services in Reading

We are one of the leading Chartered Surveyors covering London, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire and regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Our team is dedicated to providing the highest quality building surveys.
Contact us to discuss your requirements further.

What work requires a Party Wall Agreement?

Under the Act, the following work is allowed but requires a Party Wall Agreement:

· Repairing the party wall
· Inserting a damp-proof course
· Underpinning the thickness of the wall
· Cutting into the party wall to take the bearing of a beam
· Raising the height of the party wall
· Extending the party wall (e.g. to build a cellar)
· Demolishing a party wall <i>if</i> it is defective
· Cutting projections from a party wall e.g. a chimney breast

Although the work is allowed under the Act, you must inform all adjoining neighbours of the party wall you intend to carry out the work and create a Party Wall Agreement at least two months before the work takes place. Although there is no legal enforcement/fine if you don’t first inform your neighbours or create an agreement, they may use a court injunction to stop the work you are carrying out if they have not been served notice appropriately.

Can I draft a Party Wall Agreement?

If have sent your own partywall notices and your neighbour in Reading dissents and appoints their own surveyor or an agreed surveyor, you cannot act for yourself. You must appoint a third party to resolve the dispute for you.

What is the party wall 3-metre rule?

The Party Wall Act 1996 includes excavations within 3 metres of a neighbour/adjoining owner.

The official government guidance for the 3-metre rule is: “If you plan to “excavate, or excavate for and construct foundations for a new building or structure, within 3 metres of any part of a neighbouring owner’s building or structure, where any part of that work will go deeper than the neighbour’s foundations” you must serve the adjoining owner notice.

The guidance also covers if you plan to “excavate, or excavate for and construct foundations for a new building or structure, within 6 metres of any part of a neighbouring owner’s building or structure, where any part of that work will meet a line drawn downwards at 45° in the direction of the excavation from the bottom of the neighbour’s foundations” you must serve the adjoining owner notice. 

What makes a 3-metre notice valid?

For your 3-metre notice to be considered valid, it will need to include a drawing which illustrates the depth of the proposed excavation. Such a drawing can be created by a charted surveyor who will ensure the drawing is accurate.

If you have provided an adjoining owner with a notice about a 3-6 metre excavation and have not had a written response in 14 days, a dispute is considered to be created. 

How do I identify my party wall?

“Party wall” is a legal term. It refers to any wall that you share with another property owner, as explained above. A party wall may also be referred to as a “party structure” because it is shared by two parties; you and your neighbour. They are mostly found within your home, but also can encompass the brick walls or fences found in your backyard if you live in a semi-detached or terraced house.

If you are unsure if a wall is a party wall, try to draw an imaginary boundary line down the middle of the wall. If the imaginary line divides your property and your neighbour’s property, it is likely a party wall. If you are unsure, however, contact our team of surveyors and we will be able to help you identify a party wall accurately. 

How our surveyors can help

This is where our surveyors come in. At Oakfield Chartered Surveyors, we have a team of qualified professionals who can act as independent experts when you need a Party Wall Agreement drawn up. We’re also happy to help you if a dispute arises, so you can rest assured we’ll support you every step of the way.
Party Wall Notices
Oakfield Structural Surveys
Boundary Walls
Boundary Wall Rules

Reading Party Walls

We are one of the leading Chartered Surveyors covering London, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire and regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Our team is dedicated to providing the highest quality building surveys.
Contact us to discuss your requirements further.

What happens if my neighbour disputes my Party Wall Notice?

If a neighbour has disputed a Party Wall Agreement, whether in a written reply or refusal to reply, our team can help you come to an agreement with your neighbour and create a plan that works for all parties. This is technically referred to as a Party Wall Award and is legally binding and represents all parties. The Award will outline the work that is approved to be completed and will include information about potential compensation should any damage occur.

Party Wall Agreement vs. Party Wall Award

The difference between a Party Wall Agreement and Party Wall Award is an Award is created when ne party refuses to give consent. Whereas a Party Wall Agreement is created when both parties are happy with the proposed building work and no further intervention or discussions are required.

How do I approach a neighbour in Reading about the Party Wall Agreement?

If you wish to carry out building work or a renovation project on your property in Reading that may impact your party wall, the following tips may help you avoid a dispute with your neighbour:
Your neighbour may be surprised if they receive a Party Wall Agreement seemingly out of the blue so, if possible, let them know about your plans as far in advance as possible. For example, you may want to let them know about your future plans casually over a cup of coffee or in a greeting card.
To avoid a dispute, ensure you think about things that may impact your neighbour and what you can do to minimise inconvenience for your neighbour. For example, if you think your neighbour may be concerned about the noise created by power tools, include a schedule of when noisy tools will be used in your agreement so your neighbour can be prepared.
Try to keep your neighbours up to date with any relevant development to the project. If your neighbour feels like you are maintaining a transparent, respectful relationship with them, they will be less likely to dispute a proposal as they won’t think they are being misled or taken advantage of.
Working with a surveyor from the outset can help ensure the agreement is appropriate for all parties and covers all eventualities, such as a project being delayed. A third party can also help maintain a positive relationship between neighbours as they will keep all discussions professional and legal, rather than emotional.

How Oakfield Chartered Surveyors in Reading can help

At Oakfield Charted Surveyors, our team of professional and expert professionals can provide independent support and advice relating to party walls. We can help you at any stage of a project, from drawing up a Party Wall Agreement to helping create a Party Wall Award if necessary. If you’d like to learn more about our services, do not hesitate to get in touch with us today, a member of our qualified team would be happy to answer any queries you may have.
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