JS Building Consultancy


The Party Wall Etc Act 1996, what is it all about? and how does it affect my building work?


The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is a UK law that governs the relationships between owners of adjacent buildings and provides a framework for resolving disputes regarding party walls and structures that are shared by two or more properties.

The Act establishes procedures for serving notice, carrying out works, and resolving disputes between neighbouring owners. For those not used to the legalese in the Act it can be difficult to understand and implement correctly.

However, when implemented correctly, before starting building work it puts in place a way of resolving potential neighbour disputes before they arrive.

For instance, building a wall on the boundary between two properties.

In addition, if you are planning on undertaking any of the following works, and you live in a terraced, end of terrace or semi-detached house, you will need to deal with matters under the Party Wall Act. Things like:

  1. building a wall on the boundary between two properties.
  2. Undertaking a loft conversion.
  3. Altering the chimney, for example removing a chimney breast in a bedroom.
  4. Undertaking a rear extension (in most cases).
  5. Replacing the roof.
  6. Cutting into a shared, or party wall, for structural reasons, for example, to remove the wall between your ground floor forward and rear rooms by inserting a steel beam.

These are just some of the works affected by the Party Wall Act. Generally, most structural works undertaken to a shared party wall require the strict adherence to the procedures in the Act.

Although not necessarily involving work to a party wall the Act also applies where excavation work is to take place adjacent to your neighbour’s building. It applies when the depth of the excavation will extend below the bottom of your neighbour’s wall foundations, or building, and is within three metres of that structure. Again, strict adherence to the procedures in the Act should be followed.

Any notifiable work to be carried out under the Act must be carried out in accordance with the procedures set out in the Act. This typically involves serving notice to the owner of the adjacent property, providing technical details of the proposed works, and allowing a reasonable period of time for the affected party to respond. In some cases where a property is rented the notice may be served to the occupier or leaseholder of the property as well as the owner.

If after the notice has been served there is a dispute the Act provides for the appointment of a party wall surveyor (known as the “Agreed Surveyor”) to act as an impartial expert to resolve disputes between the building owner intending to carry out the work and the owners of adjacent properties, should each party agree to appoint .

Where each of the parties choose to appoint their own surveyor, they may do so. The agreed surveyor, or surveyors where more than one, will then be responsible for determining the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved, agree, and issue an award on each of the parties that sets out the terms under which the work can be carried out, and their rights under the Act.

The Act ensures that the rights and interests of all parties are protected. JS Building Consultancy, as your party wall surveyor, can assist in navigating the requirements of the Act and resolving disputes that may arise in the context of construction work listed in the Act.

As your Party Wall Surveyor JS Building Consultancy will provide the following Party Wall Act service (Where applicable for the Building Owner or the Adjoining Owner):

  1. Provision of a letter for you to sign to make the appointment of an experienced Party Wall Surveyor.
  2. Preparation of the notice detailing the work in the way stipulated in the Act, serving that notice on the neighbour, or neighbours, that will be affected by the work.
  3. Make a Condition survey to the relevant parts of the Adjoining Owners property that will be affected by the works and prepare a Schedule of Condition for those parts.
  4. Liaison with your neighbour or their surveyor.
  5. Preparation of the draft Party Wall Award. Reach agreement of the award by corresponding with your neighbours Surveyor.
  6. Printing hard copies of the Awards, signing the Awards.
  7. Serving the Awards on both the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner.
  8. Inspecting the relevant parts of the Adjoining Owner’s property when the notifiable work is complete, to check that the work has not caused any damage to the property, and where there is a dispute settling it by an award.
  9. Dealing with any other matter arising out of the dispute in accordance with the Act.