What is a Party Wall?
A Party Wall is a boundary between two buildings or properties owned by two or more owners.
According to the Party Wall etc Act 1996 (hereafter referred to as “the Act”), there are two types of Party Wall, and these are;
1. A wall that spans a boundary of land belonging to two or more owners
2. A wall that is situated entirely on one owner’s land but is used by two or more owners as a boundary to their property.
Party Wall Notices
There are three types of Notice that an adjoining owner may receive outlining areas of work that are to be carried out on the adjacent property. These are as follows;
1. A Party Structure Notice: this type of Notice deals with alterations that will affect the Party Wall directly, such as insertion of beams which requires cutting holes. The notice period for this type of Notice is two months.
2. The Notice of Adjacent Excavation: this type of Notice deals with works that require excavations that are either; within three meters of the owner’s building and lower in depth than the foundations of the building or within six meters of the owner’s building and intersects at angle of 45 degrees in line with external wall. This Notice should have attached plans detailing the excavation.
3. Line of Junction Notice: this type of Notice covers two forms of work; a new wall that is to be constructed adjacent to a boundary or a new wall that spans the boundary. The notice period for this type of Notice is one month.
Notice can either be served in person or by postal service, either directly addressing the adjoining owner by name or addressed to “the Owner”. Where the name of the owner of the adjoining property is not known, the Notice must be displayed in a visible area of the premises.
Party Wall Disputes
If an owner does not consent within 14 days to proposed works on the adjoining property they are declared as being “in dispute” according to the Act. This dispute is resolved by the appointment of a surveyor who in turn draws up the terms of the Party Wall Award. These surveyors have a legal duty to be impartial.
What is a Party Wall Agreement?
A Party Wall Agreement, also referred to as a ‘Party Wall Award’, is a written agreement that is drawn up by two surveyors, known as Party Wall Surveyors. The Party Wall Surveyors act on behalf of the owners.
An Award consists of three aspects:
1. Guidelines as to how proposed work should be carried out
2. A Schedule of Condition relating to the adjoining property. This will often include supporting photographs.
3. Diagrams that show in detail proposed works.
The Award tends to be based upon a RICS drafted document. This draft will then be subject to amendment to reflect proposed works.
The Award should furthermore contain the following:
- Details of both properties
- Details of the owners of the properties to include their home addresses
- Details of both surveyors and the third or agreed surveyor
- Plan detailing proposed works
- Working hours on properties
- Details of assurances such as Public Liability Insurance
- The building owner’s guarantees to the favour of the adjoining owner
- Access arrangements for surveyors to access properties
- A timetable with predicted completion date for the works. This will usually be a period of 12 months
- Surveyor’s fee for the adjoining owner
Once the Party Wall Award is agreed by both parties and a signed and witnessed copy sent to both owners, via their surveyors. There is a 14 day period in which either owner can then appeal the contents of the Party Wall Award.
An additional copy of the Party Wall Award will be forwarded to the Contractor of the site by the owner of the building subject to works.
Why would you need a Party Wall Award?
The Party Wall Award ensures that there are certain protections under the Act.
If you are the owner of the building that works are being carried out upon, the Party Wall Award will ensure that all defects existing in the property are recorded prior to the commencement of work. The Award further provides a right of access to the property belonging to the adjoining property in order that works can be carried out.
If you are the owner of the adjoining property, the Party Wall Award enables surveyors to; regulate the time periods in which work is carried out, enables provision for dealing with damages without the need for civil proceedings, assures that there will be no damage to adjoining properties and that work will not cause any avoidable inconvenience.
 In residential areas the hours of work should be between 8am and 5.30pm on work days.