Party Wall Agreements: Everything You Need to Know About Adjoining Owners

Planning construction works on your property can be stressful, especially if the job you are planning to do is carried out on or near a shared wall, impacting an adjoining owner. In this instance you will need a party wall agreement, but what exactly does this mean? Our surveying experts are here to tell you everything you need to know about party wall agreements and adjoining owners.

So, what is a party wall agreement? A party wall agreement is when a building owner will ask for permission from all affected adjoining owners when they plan to carry out building work near or on a party wall. The work cannot begin until a party wall award, which is a document outlining all works and how they should progress, has been prepared and agreed upon by all affected parties. 

Read on to find out more about party wall agreements, why they are important and how our experts at Fourth Wall can help. 

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What is a Party Wall Agreement?

In 1996 The Party Wall Act was created to prevent construction works happening across from adjoining owners that could cause potential arguments between neighbours or damage the structural integrity of a wall. The act states that you must provide notice of any potential works to neighbours and that you should all be in agreement with the works before construction starts. This is typically served in the form of a party wall agreement, this notice must be served in England and Wales if the work involves:

  • Being built on or at the boundary of the two properties 
  • Working on a party wall or party structure that is already there 
  • Excavating below or near the foundation level of your neighbour’s building or structure

If your neighbour responds to the party wall notice with written permission, then a party wall award is not needed and work can go ahead straight away. If the neighbour dissents the notice then you will have to appoint a party wall surveyor, often two will be involved to represent each neighbour, so then they can put together a party wall agreement to resolve any issues to secure the ‘party wall award’.  This party wall agreement is a legal document which sets out what work will be carried out, how and when it can be carried out and who will pay for it (this includes surveyor fees). 

Whether your neighbour agrees or not, we always recommend having a photographic survey conducted for the neighbour’s property at the very least. This will provide you with vital evidence in case any structural damages occur and arguments ensue. 

When Do You Need a Party Wall Agreement? 

If you are looking to carry out any building work either on or near a party wall then you are going to need to first serve a party wall notice and then draw up a party wall agreement to confirm that both parties are happy. Some of the works that require a party wall agreement include but are not limited to:

  • Extensions that affect the party wall between semi-detached or terrace houses 
  • Loft conversions which may require cutting into the party wall 
  • Making party walls thicker or higher
  • Building a storey extension above a shared wall 
  • Excavation works close by (within 3-6m) of the party wall 
  • Work that involves party structures such as the floors between flats 
  • Work to shared garden walls, this does not include garden fences

If you’re planning an extension, and you’d like to find out more about the legal requirements and timeline, why not read our recent blog? – ‘Where to start with an extension: The Architectural Process’’.

Some minor works do not require a party wall agreement such as garden fences,  drilling into party walls to fit things like shelving or units or even having plastering done.  To find out whether your planned works require a party wall survey, contact one of our experts. We’re more than happy to help determine the best route for your property.

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How To Serve a Party Wall Notice

A party wall notice is typically served by yourself or if not you, you can usually pay a flat fee to a party wall surveyor who can serve it for you. Having your party wall notice served by a professional can be useful as it ensures that everything follows the correct procedures to prevent any problems further down the line. They ensure that all the correct people receive the document, including the freeholder or leaseholder, all the calculations and information are correct and that it is given within enough time for construction to go ahead as planned.  

We recommend that the party wall notice be served at least three months before works are planned at a minimum, as you can only begin construction two months and one day after you’ve either received permission or your party wall award. 

What Does a Party Wall Notice Include?

A party wall notice will typically include these elements:

  • A detailed description of the proposed works including any details of specific foundations that may be included in the works
  • The proposed start dates for the works to begin and completed 
  • An agreement section for both parties to sign if they are both happy to proceed with the work. 

How Long Does a Party Wall Notice Last?

A party wall notice is only valid for a year, so for this reason, you should avoid serving it too early. This is why we recommend serving the notice 2-3 months before you plan to begin work to allow for as much time for any delays in the process such as potential disputes. 

Party Wall Surveyors At Fourth Wall 

At Fourth Wall, we have a wealth of experience working with several properties varying in complexity, conducting party wall services to help achieve the best possible outcome. Whatever the property or situation may be we work our hardest to not only maintain relationships but to get the job done to your desired satisfaction. 

If you’d like to find out more about how our expert team can help you with your survey needs, get in touch with us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Party Wall Notice FAQs

How Long Does a Neighbor Have To Respond To a Party Wall Notice?

Once you have issued your party wall notice, your neighbour will have 14 days to respond in writing. If they do not respond within this time frame you have an additional 10 days to deliver another notice. If they do not respond to the second notice, you will have to appoint a party wall surveyor to help resolve the issue.

Can a Party Wall Notice Be Verbal?

In short, no. Neither a party wall notice nor a response to a party wall notice can be given in verbal form as this does not give either side of the party legal protection. This is because there is no solid evidence to say that an agreement has been made to go ahead with work, so this could lead to disagreements and legal action further down the line.

What Should I Do if a Neighbor Does Not Serve a Party Wall Notice?

Giving a party wall notice to adjoining owners prior to any building works which may affect a party wall is a legal obligation. If your neighbour does not serve a party wall notice you can take them to court for an injunction.

What is the 3 Metre Rule For a Party Wall?

The three-metre rule refers to the fact that the Party Wall Act covers any excavations or building works within 3 metres of the adjoining owners’ shared structure.

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