How Does the Party Wall Act Affect my Building Work?

As a building owner, do you intend to:

  • Work on an existing wall, ceiling or floor structure shared with another property
  • Build on or at the boundary with another property?
  • Excavate near a neighbouring building or structure?

If you are planning any of these works, you must find out whether the work falls within the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.  The Act was introduced by the Government in 1997, covering the whole of England and Wales to regulate building works to adjoining properties.  It is intended to enable work to proceed while protecting adjoining owners and occupiers who may be affected by the work.  Under the Act, the building owner who wishes to conduct such work must provide notification in sufficient time and in writing to adjoining owners of the proposed work.  Adjoining owners can be owners or occupiers of adjacent residential, commercial and industrial land or buildings.

If you share a party wall, party structure or a party fence wall with another, you may be governed by the provisions of the Act.  Party walls are walls used by more than one owner, such as the dividing wall between two houses.  Floors between flats are party structures.  Boundary walls can be party fence walls.  Loft conversions, extensions, structural work on a party wall such as removing a chimney breast, excavation close to another building or structure to a depth that exceeds that of the neighbour’s foundations, or alteration to a masonry party garden wall are examples of work governed by the Act.

Resolving disputes
In case of a dispute between owners, the Act provides procedures for appointing party wall surveyors who can resolve issues by way of an award, specifying the format for carrying out the work.  An award allows the building owner the right to conduct work under the Act, while ensuring the work is done in a manner that protects the adjoining owners’ interests.

What you should do?
Before commencing any building work, check to see if the Party Wall Act applies.  Failure to comply with the Act could result in the works being unlawful

If you have any questions, contact P D Building Consultancy.  As Members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS), they have been trained to advise on party wall matters and are bound by the Faculty’s Code of Conduct.

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