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Party Walls

Party Walls usually separate buildings belonging to different owners, but this can also include garden walls.

There are also other party structures, for example a floor can be a party structure in certain circumstances. When an Owner does work to or around a Party Wall, there are certain prescribed procedures that must be undertaken set out in the 'Party Wall etc Act 1996'.

The Party Wall etc Act

Since the Party Wall etc Act 1996 came into force, property owners in England & Wales now have a procedure to follow when building work involves a party wall or excavations close to neighbouring buildings. There are also other circumstances in which the Party Wall Act can be applicable. An 'Explanatory Guide' is available or Coppard Giles can lead you through the various required stages.

The Act permits owners to carry out certain specific works whilst at the same time protecting the interests of anyone else who might be affected by that work. More information for owners is available in the 'Owners Guide'.

The Act is designed to avoid or minimise disputes by making sure property owners notify their neighbours in advance of certain proposed works. The Act requires that where the adjoining owner does not “agree” in writing to the works, a surveyor or surveyors will determine the time and way in which those works are carried out.

What is not covered by the Act

The Act relates only to certain specific types of work and is permissive in nature. It is not just another way to object to, or try to prevent your neighbour's works, nor is it intended to be applied to everyday minor jobs that do not affect the structural integrity or loading of a party wall.

What do you have to do?

If you intend to carry out works that would be covered under the Act, you must give written notice to your neighbours at least two months before starting any party wall works or one month for “line of junction” or excavation works.

What if there is a dispute?

Where written agreement is not reached, within 14 days of the notice, the solution the Act provides for is for both parties to appoint an “agreed surveyor” who will act impartially, or alternatively each owner appoints a surveyor. The surveyors will draw up a document called an “Award”. This details the work to be carried out, when and how it will be done and usually records the condition of the relevant parts of adjoining property before work begins. The Award will also determine who pays for the work - if this is in dispute. Generally the building owner (who started the work) pays for all expenses and reasonable costs, but if and where appropriate, these will be apportioned between the owners.

Coppard Giles are experienced in Party Wall matters and have acted as building owner's surveyor, adjoining owner's surveyor and agreed surveyor, as well as being on the RICS list for providing general Party Wall advice.

If you require any information or a fee quotation, please do not hesitate to contact the Director responsible for this service, Mr Bruce Coppard.