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What is a party wall ?

A party wall is a wall which forms part of a building and stands on lands of different owners and normally separates buildings belonging to different owners.  Along with the above there is also the term ‘party structure’ which means a party wall and also a floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings approached solely by means of separate entrances or staircases.

What is a party fence ?

A party fence wall means a wall (not being part of a building) which stands on lands of different owners and is used or constructed to be used for separating such adjoining land such as a garden wall but it does not include a timber fence.

What is a party wall surveyor ?

This is a person who is appointed by the building owner or the adjoining owner to resolve any dispute between the building owner and adjoining owner which is connected with any work to which the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 relates.

The only people not allowed to act as the party wall surveyor are the respective property owners, however it is always best to consider a professional who has experience in party wall matters and who have qualified as a member of such bodies as the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (MFPWS).

How much does a party wall surveyor charge ?

There is a massive difference between rates being charged for party wall work in all sectors. The size and difficulty of a project will in part affect the overall charges but this is normally within the commercial sector.

Average hourly rates quoted by surveyors acting on party wall matters fall between about £85.00 per hour and greater than £300.00 per hour.

In our opinion, its always best to get a ‘fixed price’ agreement with a written brief of the duties covered, it may seem high at the time but with typical hourly rates applying to party wall work it does not take long for costs to escalate.

What are party wall works ?

This is covered within the Act and is purely concerned with the parts of the proposed building work which may have an effect upon the adjoining property.

In simple terms, the Act relates to the following:

  • Building on a ‘line of junction’ (i.e. the boundary line) and that is not already built upon.

  • Undertaking various works to an existing party wall or a boundary wall.

  • Excavating within certain distances of the adjoining property.

What does a party wall act surveyor do ?

The surveyors prepare the award, which is a legal document between the two owners.  The surveyors normally meet at the property and prepare a schedule of condition (although not a requirement of the Act).  The schedule of condition assists all parties as any damage that may be caused can be checked against it and compensation awarded if required.

What is the party wall act ?

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 came into force on 1st July 1997 and applies throughout England and Wales.

The Act does not remove the need for Planning, Building Regulations or any other statutory requirements and is only concerned with the parts of the building work affecting the adjoining owner.

The purpose of the Act is to put a framework in place in which issues over certain building works can be resolved without expensive legal action between neighbours. The Act is designed to assist owners in conducting their proposed work without hindrance, whilst at the same time providing protection to the adjoining owners (neighbours) with regards to the building works that directly affect them.

Timing is important as it is necessary for the building owner to serve notices of between 1 to 2 months depending on the type of work relevant to the party wall Act, giving the adjoining owner 14 days to respond with a written agreement for the works to proceed.

The adjoining owner can dissent in writing at any time or if the adjoining owner does not respond within 14 days it is also taken that the adjoining own has dissented.

At this point it is necessary to appoint party wall surveyor(s) to prepare the award, allowing the work to proceed whilst protecting the adjoining owner.

What are my party wall rights ?

As the building owner you have the right to carry out your building work on or near to the party wall but must adhere to all the requirements of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Once your notices and any necessary awards are in place, you have the rights to carry on with your proposed work in a timely fashion without hindrance or obstacles.

 

As the adjoining owner you have the right to make sure you are protected from the works and in particular the health and safety of your family and pets, the protection of your property and from any trespass by the building owner including that of building on your land which is not allowed without your express permission.

 

What do I need to do to build a party wall, shared wall ?

If you wish to build on ( astride) the line of junction, you must serve the required notice to the adjoining owner. Upon receipt  of the notice, the adjoining owner may consent to the works and should give this consent in writing to the building owner. It is normal in this situation for the 2 parties to agree certain conditions. i.e. if the adjoining owner wants to use the wall in future for a building, the building owner could be compensated for 50% of the cost (at the time the wall is enclosed upon) or other agreed terms.

If the adjoining owner does not agree to a wall being built on (astride) the line of junction then the building owner must build the wall at their own expense, as an ‘external wall’ or ‘fence wall’ and placed wholly on their own land.

Can my neighbour build onto my wall without permission ?

If the wall is an external wall or fence wall, the building owner (neighbour in this case) is not allowed to enclose onto your wall without your express permission in writing.

If your neighbour does enclose onto your wall then this is classed as trespass and the appropriate action can be taken through the County Courts to obtain an order for the removal of the building.

Within the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, it is possible for your neighbour to serve you a notice to allow the enclosing onto your wall and should you agree, an award could be made to compensate you for a due proportion of the cost of the wall calculated by reference to what the cost of the work would be if it were carried out at the time when the subsequent use is made.

If you don’t agree to the use of your wall then the building owner (neighbour) must build the wall wholly on his own land, this could include serving the required notice for excavation.

Please note: The answers to the above questions are given in good faith and are based on our experience, working knowledge of the 'Act' and with reference to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. 

For further and a deeper understanding, we have included within our 'Information' section, PDF downloadable copies of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and the governments own Explanatory Booklet.