Do I need a Party Wall Agreement?
You will need a party wall agreement with your neighbour(s) / adjoining building owner(s) IF you intend to do notifiable works to one of the following structures;
A Party Wall
A Party Wall Structure
A Party Fence Wall
It is important to note not all works to party walls, party wall structures and party fence walls fall under the act, many are considered minor works of which do not require you to follow the party wall act procedures.
The Party Wall Act covers more than just the aforementioned Party Walls, it also relates to "adjacent excavations" that is the process of digging holes or trenches in your land within certain distances of your neighbours structure(s). These structures can be anything from a garden wall, a shed, a garage, a pool house or their main property. And the distances can be up to 6 metres. This includes residential, commercial and industrial structures.
The information below should help clear up any questions but feel free to call or contact us for free advice.
A party wall is a partition wall that divides two or more properties. The party wall will be under shared ownership with your neighbour or neighbours. Some typical examples include the dividing wall between two semi-detached properties, the dividing walls between terraced properties and the dividing wall between one or more different owners’ garages.
If you are planning on carrying out building work that will involve cutting into (a steel perhaps) or cutting away from (removing a chimney for example) a party wall, you are required by law to serve a valid party wall notice to all adjoining owners. A loft conversion or chimney removal are two very common examples.
What is a Party Wall?
This can be any separating structure between two or more properties. If you live in a middle floor flat for example, your floor and your ceiling are Party Wall Structures if they separate your property from another.
If you're planning on carrying out works to a party wall structure you will need to serve a valid party wall notice,
What is a Party Wall Structure?
A wall that is not part of a building which stands on or
directly adjacent to a boundary between to owners’ properties.
This doesn’t include wooden fences.
If you are planning on carrying out works that will affect a
Party Fence Wall then you will need to serve a valid
A common example would be the construction of a rear extension.
What is a Party Wall Fence?
These works may include alterations such as inserting lead flashing, cutting in steels for loft conversions and extensions, repairs to the wall including inserting damp proof courses, demolition of the structures and the construction of new structures from the above if they're adjoining or on the line of junction (the boundary line).
A Party Wall Agreement can also be required for the digging / excavation of a building owners land. This section of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (Section 6) requires a Party Wall Agreement if:
A building owner wishes to dig or excavate within THREE METRES of their neighbours’ foundations, IF any part of the proposed excavations will be lower than the bottom of their neighbours’ foundations.
Note: The boundary line or any other obstruction is ignored when taking the 3-metre measurement.
If you are planning to excavate within 3 metres of your
neighbours building you will need to serve a valid party wall notice and obtain a party wall agreement before you can commence your building works.
This clause applies to the construction of most rear extensions in both urban and suburban locations.
Adjacent excavation within 3 metres
Adjacent excavation within 6 metres
A building owner wishes to dig or excavate within SIX METRES of any part of their neighbours building or structure, IF any part of the proposed excavation, building or structure within those 6 metres meet a plane drawn downwards in the direction of the excavation at an angle of 45 degrees to the horizontal.
Generally speaking this tends to only be applicable to piling or basement extension works.
This type of complex work will require a party wall agreement with all affected neighbours. You must in the first instance serve them with a valid party wall notice for you development to remain lawful.
Do I need a Party Wall Agreement for Special Foundations?
An agreement will also be required if the proposed works include the construction of a "special Foundation(s)" which for the purpose of the act is considered to be "an assemblage of beams and rods employed for the purpose of distributing loads."
As you can see from the above, a strong construction knowledge is needed to ensure issuance of the correct Party Wall Notices and proper performance from appointed Party Wall Surveyors.
If you're planning on carrying out such works it's essential that you have the works reviewed by a specialist party wall surveyor to ensure that correct and valid notices are served, ensuring that any agreement reached with your neighbours is lawfully robust.
Call our free advice helpline to find out more on 01273 380 358
How do I get a Party Wall agreement?
To get a party wall agreement you need to follow the party wall act procedures.
1. Serve a correct and compliant notice on your affected adjoining owners - it's advised to have a suitable specialist party wall surveyor do this for you, BTN Surveyors are happy to assist.
2. If your neighbour is happy with the proposed works, have them agree it in writing, commission a
schedule of condition - this is optional but STRONGLY recommended. You are then free to commence works.
3. If your neighbour is unhappy with the works or does not reply in the specified timescale, depending on the works proposed, you will either have a party wall agreement by default in which case you can commence works (consider that schedule of condition again) or you will be deemed to be in dispute.
4. If you are now in dispute then you will need to appoint a party wall surveyor and request that your neighbour either agrees to also appoint the same surveyor as you have selected or appoint their own within 10 days.
5. The party wall surveyor(s) will review the proposed works and produce a party wall award specifying how and when the works will take place - this will involve a schedule of condition as previously mentioned.
How long does a Party Wall Agreement last?
A party wall agreement will typically last 12 months. Although 12 months is the standard this can vary from one party wall award to another depending on the works, the surveyors and the owners. It is unlikely that an award will stipulate valid period for longer than this as the proposed works are likely to be disruptive to the adjoining owner and therefore its unreasonable to expect an adjoining owner to wait in perpetuity for the works to commence. Some party wall awards will specify shorter periods depending on various factors relating to the specific case.