The party wall is a crucial part of legislation that enables neighbours to have a say about work that happens close to their land that may affect their home.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and its importance has not diminished in the intervening years.
Here are some common misconceptions about party wall laws and the effect they can have on your construction projects.
It’s On My Land
One of the most common misconceptions is that the party wall refers to an actual wall or boundary, when in reality it also takes into account projects adjacent to the wall itself, up to three metres (or six for especially deep foundations) away from the party wall itself.
The reason for this is that even if you care completely excavating in your boundaries you can affect your neighbour’s foundations.
No Reply, No Objection
There is an assumption that the 14-day period after notifying a neighbour is for them to register any objections and that no reply means that they consent to the work.
The opposite is, in fact, the case as the underlying assumption is that no reply means the neighbour does not consent to the work and must appoint a party wall surveyor to settle the dispute. If they do not within ten days of a further reminder, then you must appoint someone on their behalf.
But They Have Already Consented
Granting consent officially for party wall-related work has a very specific process and order to it.
Whilst you can (and ideally should) talk to your neighbour first and make sure they are happy with your work, you must give notice and ensure they consent in writing. This ensures their rights are unaffected if they do wish to bring in a surveyor later on.