Property owners who are looking to extend their buildings need to be aware of the 1996 Party Wall Act. They may need to serve their neighbours with a notice(s) if any of the project work (Domestic or Commercial) falls within the remit of the Act. As a consequence they will need their neighbours involvement/consent.
What is a Party Wall?
A) A Party wall stands on the lands of 2 (or more) owners and forms part of a building - this wall can be part of one building only or separate buildings belonging to different owners.
B) It can also be a wall that stands on the lands of 2 owners but does not form part of a building, such as a boundary wall (not including timber fences).
C) A wall that is on one owner's land but is used by 2 (or more) owners to separate their buildings
The Act also uses the term ‘party structure' which could defined as a wall or floor partition or other structure (separating buildings or parts of buildings) in different ownership, such as in flats.
The Party Wall Act covers three areas of construction :-
a) Alterations to a wall shared by two properties.
b) The building of a new wall on the boundary between two properties
c) Any excavation work next to and below the foundation level of a neighbouring property.
This could be by :-
a) cutting into a party wall or take the bearing of a beam/new stairs etc (for support)
b) extending/making a party wall taller, shorter or deeper
c) removing chimney breasts from a party wall
d) demolition and rebuilding of a party wall
e) digging below the foundation level of a neighbouring property
If, as a building owner, you are carrying out work that falls within any of the above three categories than you must inform all the adjoining owners of your intent through the issuing of a relevant notice(s). The act identifies a number of notices that are required to be served on all the adjoining owners. This notice requests consent prior to any work being carried out. If that consent is not given within an agreed time allocation than the two parties are considered to be ‘in dispute'.
It is always advisable to inform your neighbour well in advance of any construction work and having an informal chat before issuing the relevant notice can often smooth the waters and reduce the risk of any dispute.
If, however, a neighbour does raise a dispute under the 1996 Party Wall Act surveyors maybe appointed by each side to resolve the matter; though both parties can agree to allow a single surveyor to mitigate the dispute.
How We Can Help
The Delaney Marling Partnership can act for either party and have many years experience in helping both building owners and their neighbours (adjoining owners) with party wall advice. We are also able to draft the initial building notice for building owners which can often significantly reduce the possibility of any dispute arising with a neighbour.