Party Wall Agreements explained

party wall agreement

Why do you need a Party Wall Agreement?

When developers or owners undertake any building works, they must consider the effect their works may have on neighbouring properties as potentially, their neighbours will experience disruption during the works without receiving any benefits. There is the potential for additional professional fees and construction costs to be incurred that may not have been included in early budgets.

As a result, it is a requirement that notice should be served on adjoining property owners before works commence and the Party Wall Act etc. 1996 requires an award agreeing the works to be undertaken to be put in place for works described in the Act.

With the current trend of development of brownfield, infill sites and conversion of existing buildings taking place, it is important that Building Owners have obtained all statutory permissions before works commence. Not getting these permissions before work starts will almost certainly result in disputes and delays, all adding to project costs.

Party Wall etc. Act 1996

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes between owners of neighbouring properties in relation to work on or close to a party wall.

The purpose of the Act is to facilitate works in a manner to ensure that the adjoining owners do not suffer loss or damage to their property as a result of the development. The Act states that if damage is caused to the adjoining owners’ property then it must be remedied at the expense of the building owner.

The onus is on building owners undertaking the works to ensure they obtain consent to undertake works which could affect party walls, structures and boundary markers belonging to neighbouring properties.

Who Does The Party Wall Act Apply To?

The Act applies to both domestic and commercial owners and covers works alongside an existing party wall or structure, new buildings astride a boundary line between properties and excavations within three to six metres of a neighbouring property.

It is wrongly thought that by obtaining Planning Permission or Building Regulation Approval this negates the requirements placed on building owners under the Party Wall Act.

If the building owner intends to undertake works, they must notify adjoining owners of their intentions. If they start work without serving notice, neighbouring building owners may seek to stop work through an injunction.

An adjoining owner can either consent or dissent to the works. If the adjoining owner dissents to the proposed works either an agreed surveyor who is independent and not involved in the design and specification of the works can be appointed or if the building or adjoining owner cannot agree upon an agreed surveyor then each side should appoint their own independent surveyors to agree the party wall award. Vickery Holman can act as an independent surveyor for either party and has considerable experience in helping to resolve disputes.

Get In Touch With Vickery Holman Today

In summary, anyone considering undertaking work needs to consider the requirements of the Party Wall Act and undertake an early review to determine whether Party Wall notices need to be served in a timely manner. We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to have the Party Wall awards in place PRIOR to works being commenced to avoid delays, additional costs and to provide both parties with protection under the Act.

If you’re in any doubt as to whether the Party Wall Act applies to your potential construction works, we’d be happy to advise you. Vickery Holman has offices in Truro, Plymouth, Exeter and Bristol with experienced Building Surveyors across the South West.  Please see our Neighbourly Matters page for more information or to contact one of our Surveyors.

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