An overview of the party wall process.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (“the Act”) provides a framework for preventing or resolving disputes relating to party walls, party structures, boundary walls, and excavations near neighbouring buildings.
Where a building owner carries out works which fall under the Act they must serve notice on the adjoining owner(s) that is/are affected by the works.
The works covered by the Act include:
- Various work to an existing party structure
- New building at or astride the boundary line between properties
- Excavation within 3 or 6 metres of a neighbouring property depending on the depth.
In the event that you are carrying out works to an existing party structure, the notice must be served to the adjoining owner at least 2 months before you start the work.
In the event that you are building on the line of junction or excavating, the notice period is at least 1 month.
A party wall surveyor can prepare notices for you that comply with the Act and manage the process. Murrins offers this service, as well as a free party wall notice generator which you can use to get your notices for free.
Once the notices have been issued, the adjoining owner then has three options:
- Consent to the work
- Dissent to the work
- Do nothing
If the adjoining owner consents to the works in writing you can start immediately and no further actions are required as far as the Act is concerned.
If the adjoining owner dissents in writing, or if they do not respond within 14 days and are therefore deemed to have automatically dissented according to the Act, then a dispute has arisen.
If a dispute arises each owner will need to appoint a party wall surveyor to agree a Party Wall Award.
This process will involve carrying out a schedule of condition of the parts of the property that could be damaged by the works, as well as agreeing the processes by which the works will be carried out. This will form the Award which will need to be followed during the course of the works.
It is important to note that an adjoining owner cannot stop you from doing the works.
However, if you proceed without having followed the Act then your neighbour can get a court injunction to prevent you from carrying out the works.
Whilst this is a very brief overview of the party wall process, it is oftentimes much less straight forward. It is therefore highly recommended that unless you are well versed in the Act and the process that it implies, that you seek the advice of an expert.
If you are looking for a party wall surveyor, or would like to talk to someone about advice regarding the Act, then please contact us and one of our Chartered Surveyors will be happy to help you.