The Party Wall etc Act 1996
If you are building an extension, carrying out repairs or works to a Party Wall (shared with an adjoining owner) notice may need to be served in accordance with the Act and a subsequent Award may be required.
Frequently asked questions concerning The Party Wall Act etc 1996
My neighbour is building an extension on his own land and does not share a party wall – does he still need to serve a party wall notice?
The Party Wall Act covers not only shared party walls but also any excavation within 3 metres of any joining structure on an adjoining property. If your excavation will be to a lower level than your neighbour's existing foundations, or is within 6 meters and the excavation will be at a lower level (drawing a 45-degree line from the base of your neighbour’s foundations), which is usually the case with older properties.
My neighbour has served a Party Wall notice on me - is it valid and what do I need to do next?
There is generally no cost to you to be represented as the surveyors fees are paid by the building owner and you are entitled to be represented by a surveyor who will advise you on the party wall act and any other issues surrounding the works.
I have not had a party wall notice and my neighbour has started works, or is going to start such works shortly- what should I do?
If works have started without a notice being served then you should contact the building owner and state that you believe a notice should have been served under The Party Wall Act etc.1996. You are usually entitled to be represented by a surveyor in most cases free of charge. In urgent cases where you think your property is at risk from damage you may be able to stop such works until a notice is served and you are given the opportunity to appoint a party wall surveyor.
What is the difference between a party wall award and a schedule of condition?
A Party Wall Award is a legally binding document that allows the building owner to undertake works to, or close to, the party wall, it regulates how and when the works are to be undertaken, the precise nature of the works and protects both parties from potential damage or claims. It also contains a Schedule of Condition (a survey in words and pictures of the relevant parts of the adjoining owner’s building). This allows the surveyor to return once the works are complete to identify any damage that has occurred due to the works and ensure you are compensated.
How long does it take to make a party wall award?
This will depend on whether one or two party wall surveyors have been appointed. It will usually take between ten to fourteen days if two party wall surveyors are appointed.
Is it worth getting a party wall surveyor?
The party wall surveyor's costs are normally paid by the adjoining and the party wall award benefits both parties as any damages are recorded, making any potential claims at a later date to be verified and dealt with quickly. If no Party Wall Award has been made then the only way to resolve a disputed claim for damages is through the courts which can be extremely costly.
The Local Authority Building Inspector will be checking the works during their progress - will he be doing the same job as the Party Wall Surveyors?
Absolutely not. The Building Inspector is only paid to check on the safety and conformity of the Building Owner's works.
My neighbour has given me written assurance that their contractors are fully insured and will repair any damage to my property immediately. Surely this means that I am protected anyway?
Even if the contractors are reputable, it is very easy for them to dispute whether they have caused certain types of damage, such as cracks to your walls or ceilings. Even if you take photographs of your property yourself this date is unrecorded and is unlikely to provide sufficient neutral evidence in the event of your claim.
How much will a surveyor charge to represent me?
In most cases, there is no cost to the adjoining owners as these costs are paid by the owner under the Party Wall etc Act 1996
More answers to the most commonly asked questions about Party Wall Surveyors can be found at the Government helpful Webpage https://www.gov.uk/guidance/party-wall-etc-act-1996-guidance
A surveyor will be able to give you advice and ensure full compliance with the act and you can get a quote here
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