What is a Party Wall?
A Party Wall is a wall that sits on the boundary land between two or more different owners. So, this could be a wall that separates a building like a terrace or semi-detached house or a wall that makes up the boundary between two or more gardens (Party Fence Walls).
A Party Fence Wall is a wall that stands between different owners of boundary land that is not part of the building. Party Fence Walls can only be walls that separate land, so wooden fences or hedges are not.
What is the Party Wall Act?
The UK Party Wall Act 1996 is a Law set of procedures for changing shared walls.
When you begin any work on a shared wall, you must check whether the party wall covers it. The Party Wall act mainly covers; major works, whereas minor works do not tend to be.
Below are some of the works that party walls cover:
- Demolishing and rebuilding shared walls
- Increasing the height or thickness of the wall
- Building an extension
- Cutting into boundary walls
- Damp-proofing course
- Underpinning foundations
Below are some of the areas the Party Wall does not cover:
- Drilling into the wall to hang shelves
- Adding new sockets or switches to the wall
- Electrical wiring
- Adding wallpaper
When do I need a party wall agreement?
You should proceed with the Party Wall agreement if you are planning; to carry out work near or on a party wall. You must provide a Party Wall Notice to the correct neighbour and create a party wall agreement in writing.
What is a Party Wall Notice?
A Party Wall Notice is a document of writing stating the works you will carry out on the shared wall. You mustn’t leave out any information so that the Party Wall Notice is valid and can’t get cancelled. The final agreement must have the signatures of all owners.
You should provide at least two months’ notice before carrying out the work. The Party Wall Notice only lasts a year, so you mustn’t wait too long.
You must include this information on the party wall notice:
- Contact details
- Address of all owners
- The works to be carried out
- The proposed commence date for the works
There are three main types of Party Wall Notices, these are:
- Line of Junction Notice – Section 1
- Party Structure Notice – Section 2
- Notice of Adjacent Excavation – Section 6
What happens if I don’t serve a Party Wall Notice?
Not serving a Party Wall Notice can lead to many consequences. It will mean you have no protection against false accusations of damage. Or it could lead to your neighbour taking you to court over an injunction on construction, which can cause delays.
If you have a Party Notice and schedule from a surveyor, you can use that to defend yourself. You can also continue to have a good relationship with your neighbours.
Further Guidance on the Party Wall Act 1996
For further information and guidance, you can visit the Governments website, where they have more information and explanatory booklets on all the Party Wall processes.