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Party Wall

N J Lewis and Associates Ltd are specialists in the Party Wall Act...

N J Lewis & Associates Limited can help you with party walls

Party walls and their law is complex and there are many different scenarios which can result in a diverse range of solutions with many possible actions required.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 includes the word ‘etcetera’ to indicate it is not restricted to the party wall but also includes construction on or near the boundary.

The act has three main sections briefly described below:

  • Section 1 – Where a new building is being constructed on or near the boundary between two different owners.
  • Section 2 – Where work is being proposed to an existing party wall (a wall shared by two owners where the boundary line passes through the wall).
  • Section 6 – Where building work is being proposed within three metres of a structure owned by a neighbour or within six metres if deep foundations are proposed.

For more information please click one of the highlighted key words below.

What is a Party Wall?

The party wall act has two specific definitions for a party wall as follows: –

  • A party wall is defined as a wall which forms part of a building and stands on land of different owners to a greater extent than the projection of any artificially formed support on which the wall rests.
  • So much of a wall not being a wall referred to paragraph (a) above as separates buildings belonging to different owners.

Type (a) party walls are the common wall found between two semi-detached houses. In this type of wall it is common for the boundary to be located in the centre of the wall and for the two owners to equally share the wall.

A type (b) party wall is often found where the wall was constructed by one owner as a boundary wall and was later enclosed upon by the adjoining owner. The section that is enclosed is a part (b) party wall whereas the remainder is a boundary wall.

Timescale

The Party Wall etc Act has some specific times for the serving of information and response to requests. Of particular importance are the following: –

  • Notice under Section 1 must be served at least one month before work starts.
  • Notice under Section 2 must be served at least two months before work starts.
  • Notice under Section 6 must be served at least one month before beginning to excavate.
  • The building work must begin within 12 months of the date of the notice.

Party Structure

Although the act is known as the Party Wall etc Act 1996 this includes party structures. Particularly in blocks of flats but often in older buildings the division between property owned by different owners can be horizontal as well as vertical. In flats therefore the floor between different owners can qualify as a party structure and require notice under the act.

Notices

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 allows for the building owner to serve notice on the adjoining owner in order to acquire the right under the different sections of the act. Under Section 1 and Section 2 notices need to include: –

  • Name and address of the building owner.
  • The nature and particulars of the proposed work.
  • Whether special foundations are required.
  • The start date for the work.

Under Section 6 the notices will also require the site and depth of any excavation and a site plan of the building.

Party Fence Wall

In terraced housing it is not uncommon for a garden wall to have been constructed astride the boundary making it a party fence wall. The act defines a party fence wall as ‘a wall (not being part of a building) which stands on lands of different owners and is used or constructed to be used for separating such adjoining lands, but does not include a wall constructed on the land of one owner the artificially formed support of which projects into the land of another owner.’

Party Wall Award

The agreed surveyor, or any two of the three named surveyors can prepare an award. The award is a document that clarifies the rights and responsibilities of the building owner in relation to the proposed work. The award may include costs associated with the preparation of the award as well as compensation and any other elements that are associated with work in pursuance of the Act.

The award is limited to building work that is notifiable under the Act and does not affect building work that is being carried out that is not notifiable under the Act.

Building Owner

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 defines the building owner as an owner of land who is desirous of exercising rights under this Act. In real terms the person who is building and instigates notification under the act will be the building owner.

Adjoining Owner

Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996 the adjoining owner and the adjoining occupier respectively mean any owner and any occupier of land, buildings, storeys or rooms adjoining those of the building owner and for the purposes of Section 6 within the distances specified in that section.

Line of Junction

The Line of Junction is the boundary between properties owned by different people. Section 1 of the act allows for an owner when wishing to build on the Line of Junction to serve notice of his intention. This allows the adjoining owner the opportunity to challenge and discuss the location of the boundary.

Enclosure

Where a wall has been built on the boundary line as a boundary wall the adjoining owner may have in the past built a new structure which utilises the existing boundary wall as part of their structure. This enclosure upon the adjoining owner’s boundary wall changes that section of the boundary wall to a party wall known as a type (b) party wall.

Boundary

The boundary between two properties sounds straightforward but is often complex. The fence line may have been altered over the years and sometimes before a new structure can be constructed it will be necessary to ascertain and clarify the location of the boundary. Section 1 of the act deals with Line of Junction notices allowing the adjoining owner the opportunity to agree the location of the boundary prior to the commencement of the work.

Piling

Section 6 of the act has two parts. The first part deals with excavation on or near the boundary to a depth below the adjoining owner’s foundations within three metres. Section 2 is more often used where piling is involved. Piling within six metres of an adjoining owner’s property will require notification under the act.

Underpinning

When carrying out excavation on or near the party wall it may be necessary to underpin the party wall to protect the adjoining owner’s property. The Act provides the building owner with a right to underpin even if the adjoining owner does not wish this to occur. Underpinning can be contentious and should only be carried out where absolutely necessary.

Special Foundations

The act includes a specific definition of special foundations which requires consent by the owners not the surveyors.

‘Special foundations’ means foundations in which an assemblage of beams or rods is employed for the purpose of distributing any load.

Agreed Surveyor

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 allows for both parties to select a single surveyor to act for them, known as the Agreed Surveyor. For many domestic projects and projects with limited party wall problems, the agreement to appoint a single surveyor reduces costs and the time involved in resolving party wall matters.

Third Surveyor

The Third Surveyor is selected by the two surveyors appointed. In the vast majority of cases the two appointed surveyors agree the necessary details for the formation of an award and therefore the Third Surveyor is not required. If however the two appointed surveyors cannot reach an agreement, or one of the owners disagrees with the two surveyors, the Third Surveyor forms a tribunal to resolve matters.

Schedule of Condition

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 makes no specific reference to a schedule of condition, but the majority of practising party wall professionals will carry out a schedule of condition. This enables them to monitor the structure of the adjoining owner’s property to ascertain whether any damage has been caused.

Compensation

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 makes no specific reference to a schedule of condition but the majority of practising party wall professionals will carry out a schedule of condition to enable them to monitor the structure of the adjoining owner to ascertain whether any damage has been caused.

Security for Expenses

Section 12 of the act allows for the adjoining owner to request a sum for security to be lodged should the work not be completed or cause damage across the boundary. Section 12, security for expenses, has been the subject of a recent court case and the traditional concepts related to Section 12 have been changed as a result of that court case.

Who Pays?

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides that the two surveyors would agree within the award to determine the reasonable costs incurred in making or obtaining an award which will include costs of inspections and time spent by the surveyors. In all normal circumstances the building owner who will benefit from the work being undertaken will pay for the party wall award.
+ Base Information

What is a Party Wall?

The party wall act has two specific definitions for a party wall as follows: –

  • A party wall is defined as a wall which forms part of a building and stands on land of different owners to a greater extent than the projection of any artificially formed support on which the wall rests.
  • So much of a wall not being a wall referred to paragraph (a) above as separates buildings belonging to different owners.

Type (a) party walls are the common wall found between two semi-detached houses. In this type of wall it is common for the boundary to be located in the centre of the wall and for the two owners to equally share the wall.

A type (b) party wall is often found where the wall was constructed by one owner as a boundary wall and was later enclosed upon by the adjoining owner. The section that is enclosed is a part (b) party wall whereas the remainder is a boundary wall.

Timescale

The Party Wall etc Act has some specific times for the serving of information and response to requests. Of particular importance are the following: –

  • Notice under Section 1 must be served at least one month before work starts.
  • Notice under Section 2 must be served at least two months before work starts.
  • Notice under Section 6 must be served at least one month before beginning to excavate.
  • The building work must begin within 12 months of the date of the notice.

Party Structure

Although the act is known as the Party Wall etc Act 1996 this includes party structures. Particularly in blocks of flats but often in older buildings the division between property owned by different owners can be horizontal as well as vertical. In flats therefore the floor between different owners can qualify as a party structure and require notice under the act.

Notices

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 allows for the building owner to serve notice on the adjoining owner in order to acquire the right under the different sections of the act. Under Section 1 and Section 2 notices need to include: –

  • Name and address of the building owner.
  • The nature and particulars of the proposed work.
  • Whether special foundations are required.
  • The start date for the work.

Under Section 6 the notices will also require the site and depth of any excavation and a site plan of the building.

Party Fence Wall

In terraced housing it is not uncommon for a garden wall to have been constructed astride the boundary making it a party fence wall. The act defines a party fence wall as ‘a wall (not being part of a building) which stands on lands of different owners and is used or constructed to be used for separating such adjoining lands, but does not include a wall constructed on the land of one owner the artificially formed support of which projects into the land of another owner.’

Party Wall Award

The agreed surveyor, or any two of the three named surveyors can prepare an award. The award is a document that clarifies the rights and responsibilities of the building owner in relation to the proposed work. The award may include costs associated with the preparation of the award as well as compensation and any other elements that are associated with work in pursuance of the Act.

The award is limited to building work that is notifiable under the Act and does not affect building work that is being carried out that is not notifiable under the Act.

+ Owner Information

Building Owner

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 defines the building owner as an owner of land who is desirous of exercising rights under this Act. In real terms the person who is building and instigates notification under the act will be the building owner.

Adjoining Owner

Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996 the adjoining owner and the adjoining occupier respectively mean any owner and any occupier of land, buildings, storeys or rooms adjoining those of the building owner and for the purposes of Section 6 within the distances specified in that section.
+ Technical Information

Line of Junction

The Line of Junction is the boundary between properties owned by different people. Section 1 of the act allows for an owner when wishing to build on the Line of Junction to serve notice of his intention. This allows the adjoining owner the opportunity to challenge and discuss the location of the boundary.

Enclosure

Where a wall has been built on the boundary line as a boundary wall the adjoining owner may have in the past built a new structure which utilises the existing boundary wall as part of their structure. This enclosure upon the adjoining owner’s boundary wall changes that section of the boundary wall to a party wall known as a type (b) party wall.

Boundary

The boundary between two properties sounds straightforward but is often complex. The fence line may have been altered over the years and sometimes before a new structure can be constructed it will be necessary to ascertain and clarify the location of the boundary. Section 1 of the act deals with Line of Junction notices allowing the adjoining owner the opportunity to agree the location of the boundary prior to the commencement of the work.

Piling

Section 6 of the act has two parts. The first part deals with excavation on or near the boundary to a depth below the adjoining owner’s foundations within three metres. Section 2 is more often used where piling is involved. Piling within six metres of an adjoining owner’s property will require notification under the act.

Underpinning

When carrying out excavation on or near the party wall it may be necessary to underpin the party wall to protect the adjoining owner’s property. The Act provides the building owner with a right to underpin even if the adjoining owner does not wish this to occur. Underpinning can be contentious and should only be carried out where absolutely necessary.

Special Foundations

The act includes a specific definition of special foundations which requires consent by the owners not the surveyors.

‘Special foundations’ means foundations in which an assemblage of beams or rods is employed for the purpose of distributing any load.

+ Surveyor Tasks

Agreed Surveyor

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 allows for both parties to select a single surveyor to act for them, known as the Agreed Surveyor. For many domestic projects and projects with limited party wall problems, the agreement to appoint a single surveyor reduces costs and the time involved in resolving party wall matters.

Third Surveyor

The Third Surveyor is selected by the two surveyors appointed. In the vast majority of cases the two appointed surveyors agree the necessary details for the formation of an award and therefore the Third Surveyor is not required. If however the two appointed surveyors cannot reach an agreement, or one of the owners disagrees with the two surveyors, the Third Surveyor forms a tribunal to resolve matters.

Schedule of Condition

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 makes no specific reference to a schedule of condition, but the majority of practising party wall professionals will carry out a schedule of condition. This enables them to monitor the structure of the adjoining owner’s property to ascertain whether any damage has been caused.
+ Financial Information

Compensation

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 makes no specific reference to a schedule of condition but the majority of practising party wall professionals will carry out a schedule of condition to enable them to monitor the structure of the adjoining owner to ascertain whether any damage has been caused.

Security for Expenses

Section 12 of the act allows for the adjoining owner to request a sum for security to be lodged should the work not be completed or cause damage across the boundary. Section 12, security for expenses, has been the subject of a recent court case and the traditional concepts related to Section 12 have been changed as a result of that court case.

Who Pays?

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides that the two surveyors would agree within the award to determine the reasonable costs incurred in making or obtaining an award which will include costs of inspections and time spent by the surveyors. In all normal circumstances the building owner who will benefit from the work being undertaken will pay for the party wall award.