The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 ‘The Act’

Experienced Party Wall Surveyors

Our Surveyors specialise in this field. The advice we provide is based on many years of practising.

All our Surveyors are members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors, Pyramus and Thisbe Club and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Services and Professional Fees 

We can prepare and serve all of your Party Wall Notices, Party Wall Awards and administer the framework of the Act for competitive prices.

Call us on 0208 334 4773 or email us at info@cavendishsurveying.co.uk for free initial advice and fixed fees.

Introduction to the Act

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

This legislation relates to preventing and resolving disputes between neighbours, only when certain construction work is carried out.

The Process under the Act

In the context of Party Wall Matters, you are the ‘Building Owner’ if you are doing the notifiable construction work and you are the ‘Adjoining Owner’ in simple terms, if you are the neighbour.

1. The Building Owner should first serve valid Notice(s) on Adjoining Owner(s) when notifiable work is proposed. See ‘Building Owners’ tab below. We commonly see invalid Notices prepared by Building Owners meaning unfortunately, they must start the process again. Building Owners also often serve the wrong types of Notice.

2. An Adjoining Owner (the neighbour) having received a Notice may dissent and in this event is entitled to appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor. Costs for this Surveyor will usually be met by the Building Owner.

3. When the Adjoining Owner appoints a Party Wall Surveyor, the Building Owner must also appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor. The two Surveyors should then work together to agree the terms of a Party Wall Award, authorising the notifiable work.

4. Alternatively, there can be a single Agreed Surveyor who will act for both Owners who will in turn prepare and serve a Party Wall Award.

Party Wall Surveyors appointed under the Act have a ‘quasi-judicial’ function meaning they should be impartial and not favour their Owners.

Party Wall Matters can become complicated and we recommend seeking professional advice before serving Notice yourself or, if a Notice has been posted through your letterbox.

Click on ‘Building Owners’ or ‘Adjoining Owners’ tabs below for more information, or contact us directly. We will be pleased to advise you on your individual circumstances.

Building Owners

What To Do?

There are three types of Notice under the Act that can be served before proceeding with certain construction work.

Line of Junction Notice

This is when you are building a new wall on a boundary.

You cannot serve this type of Notice if an existing wall is already on a boundary, unless it is a boundary wall (free standing garden wall).

Party Structure Notice

This is most of the time when you are completing work to a Party Structure, for example increasing the height of a Party Wall, cutting into a Party Wall or, removing projections from a Party Wall.

Other work covered under this type of Notice includes for example, a Building Owner knocking down a Party Fence Wall (a free standing garden wall astride the line of junction) and building a Party Wall (side wall forming part of an extension) in its place.

Notice Of Adjacent Excavation

This is when you are excavating within 3m and to a depth lower than your neighbour’s foundations.

There is also a 6m rule which normally comes into effect when piled foundations are proposed by the Building Owner.

This is the only type of Notice requiring accompanying drawings which must show the proposed site of excavation and any proposed depth of excavation in cross section.

Common Examples Of Notifiable Work

  • Building a new wall up to the line of the boundary
  • Building a new wall astride the line of the boundary
  • Cutting into a Party Wall to insert padstones to support beams for a loft conversion
  • Re-building a garden wall positioned astride the boundary (this type of wall is known as a Party Fence Wall)
  • Underpinning a Party Wall
  • Cutting away chimney breasts from a Party Wall
  • Carrying out repairs to a Party Wall
  • Exposing a Party Wall during loft conversion building work
  • Excavations for foundations within 3m of your neighbour
  • Excavations to install below ground drains within 3m of your neighbour
  • Excavations to form a basement extension with 3m of your neighbour

Building Owners should complete Land Registry searches before serving Notice.

Downloading Title Registers from the Land Registry website is low cost and easy (£3 per Title Register).

You must allow enough time before serving Notice.

Do not guess who the Owners are. If you do, you run the risk of serving an invalid Notice. If in doubt, Notice should be made out to The Owner(s).

The Notice periods defined in the Act are shown below:

Type Of Notice                                                        Statutory Notice Period

Line of Junction Notice:                                             One Month

Party Structure Notice:                                              Two Months

Notice of Adjacent Excavation:                                 One Month

We recommend you serve Party Wall Notices at least twelve weeks before starting the notifiable construction work.

For basement extensions you should allow more time as the works are complex.

When Adjoining Owners have received a Party Wall Notice, they have three options:

Consent To The Work

A Party Wall Award is currently not required.

You can proceed with the notifiable work although when a neighbour consents, we recommend a Schedule of Condition is prepared of their premises.

A Schedule of Condition will protect the Building Owner’s interests preventing rise of spurious claims for damage in the future.

The Schedule of Condition should also comfort your neighbour.

Dissent And Appoint Their Own Party Wall Surveyor

A Party Wall Award is now required and you must also appoint a Party Wall Surveyor.

The two Surveyors should then agree a Party Wall Award.

The Party Wall Surveyors must carefully evaluate how the work will be completed.

A Schedule of Condition will normally be prepared of the adjoining premises to record existing condition prior to start of the work.

Under the terms of the Award, depending on the work, there will be a requirement for the Building Owner to rectify damage caused by the notifiable work or, provide compensation to the Adjoining Owner.

An Award will include other provisions such as working times, access conditions, methods of protection and construction details.

Neighbours often prefer a Party Wall Award being in place, but not always.

If a neighbour choses this option, you should budget for their Party Wall Surveyor’s fees, as well as your own.

Dissent And Concur In The Appointment Of An Agreed Surveyor

A Party Wall Award is still required although, only one Party Wall Surveyor is appointed and acts for both owners.

The Agreed Surveyor balances the interests of the parties and will make and serve the Award.

For this option, the Building Owner should have only one set of professional fees to pay.

Other Considerations

Security For Expenses

An Adjoining Owner can request Security for Expenses under Section 12(1) of the Act.

Security is usually a sum of money held in a third party account covering damage that might affect the Adjoining Owner’s property or, if the Building Owner abandons their project.

In our experience, Security for Expenses is normal for basement extensions.

Advising Engineer

If the construction work is complex, input from an Advising Engineer is sometimes recommended.

How We Can Help

Party Wall Notice requirements should be established early on. Valid Notices must be served in good time.

If you forward your construction drawings to us, we will review these carefully and come back to you with free expert advice.

We always suggest, if possible, Building Owners have a sensible conversation with relevant neighbours before Notices are served.

If you are planning work that could be notifiable under the Act, please call us on 0208 334 4773 or email us at info@cavendishsurveying.co.uk

Adjoining Owners

What To Do?

If your neighbour has served a Notice on you, you now have three options.

Consent To The Work

A Party Wall Award is currently not required and the Building Owner can simply proceed with the notifiable work.

If you have decided to Consent, we recommend a Schedule of Condition is prepared of your premises.

Dissent To The Work And Appoint Your Own Party Wall Surveyor

A Party Wall Award is required and you may now appoint your own Party Wall Surveyor.

The cost of appointing your own surveyor should be paid for directly by the Building Owner. Party Wall Surveyor’s fees must be reasonable.

The Party Wall Award will detail which work is authorised and the manner in which it will be completed.

Under the terms of the Party Wall Award, depending on the work, there will be a requirement for the Building Owner to rectify damage caused by the notifiable work or, provide compensation to the Adjoining Owner.

Most of the time neighbours prefer to have a Party Wall Award in place in order to protect their property and interests, but not always.

Dissent To The Work And Concur In The Appointment Of A Single Agreed Surveyor

A Party Wall Award is required.

A single Party Wall Surveyor acts for both owners acting as Agreed Surveyor and makes and serves the Party Wall Award.

For this option the Building Owner will have only one set of Party Wall Surveyor’s fees to pay.

How We Can Help

If a Notice has been served on you, please call us on 0208 334 4773 or email us at info@cavendishsurveying.co.uk for tailored expert advice.

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