The Party Wall Act - What Is It?
Updated: May 12
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (the Act) provides a legal framework to allow neighbours in England & Wales, who share a boundary, to carry out building works that involve:
Building, demolishing, repairing, exposing or otherwise altering a Party Wall or shared Party Structure,
Building a new wall along or directly astride the boundary,
Excavating within 3 or 6 metres from a neighbours building or structure.
Why was this legislation introduced? Primarily, it was put in place because these types of notifiable works have the potential to cause damage to an Adjoining Owners premises (neighbours are referred to as Owners within the Act). So, the Act puts in place a statutory obligation, a legal requirement, that Building Owners (the owner wishing to carry out the works) must give any applicable Adjoining Owners notice of the proposed notifiable works in advance. Why? So the Adjoining Owner may have some influence over how these works are carried out, to help protect their interests.
If the Adjoining Owner has concerns about the works, or are worried how the works may be implemented by contractors, they have the option to raise a dispute under the Act. This starts a dispute resolution process which is handled by Party Wall Surveyors. The Act gives the Adjoining Owner (primarily) the choice of having one ‘Agreed Surveyor’, or each party may appoint their own party wall surveyor to act for them individually, a Building Owners Surveyor and an Adjoining Owners Surveyor.
The aim of the surveyors is to implement the provisions within the Act to protect the interests of the Adjoining Owner, whilst giving the Building Owner the rights they need to carry out the notifiable works. The resolution of the dispute is documented in a binding Party Wall Award that is served on both Owners by the surveyor(s).
Clearly, there is much more to this process and the Act in general than we can mention here, but we will use this series of articles to answer some of the common queries that we encounter.
In the meantime, if you need any advice on a party wall matter please feel free to contact us on 020 8306 0680 or via our email or contact page.