Party Wall Surveying

Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding what you must do and when with the Party Wall Act can be tricky. By speaking to our party wall surveyors, we wanted to let you in on our most frequently asked questions to give you some insight.

Is the Party Wall Act a legal requirement?

The Party Wall Act 1996 isn’t just best practice guidance. It’s a legal requirement for you to fulfil your obligation to adjoining neighbours or property owners if the work you wish to undertake is covered by the Act. It’s worth double-checking with an experienced party wall surveyor whether this applies to you! 

If the work you wish to carry out isn’t covered under the Act, you have peace of mind and assurance you can continue without breaching any rules.

Can the Party Wall Act be applied retrospectively?

When talking about ‘applying’ the Party Wall Act, clients often mean whether they can have works agreed on by adjoining neighbours or property owners after the work has been carried out. While there is no reference to this in the Party Wall Act, it’s a big risk to take. If the adjoining neighbours dissent (disagree with the work) this will usually go to court and incur fees. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Who enforces the Party Wall Act?

The Party Wall Act isn’t ‘enforceable’ as such but any works that go ahead without consent can be the cause for a court case. Neighbours or adjoining property owners can take homeowners to court over unapproved works, especially if the works cause damage to the adjoining structure/s. A local council won’t be interested if somebody informs them neighbours have undertaken work without consulting relevant parties, but parties can litigate. 

What work does the Party Wall Act cover?

The Party Wall Act covers three types of work: building along a property boundary, excavating within given distances of a shared or adjoining structure, and altering a party structure. 

Again, we advise if you’re unsure if your works fall into these categories please give us a call on 020 8502 6323 so we can give you peace of mind.

My neighbour has agreed to works without being served notice, can I go ahead?

People often think a verbal consent from neighbours or adjoining owners is all they need but unfortunately this is not the case. If a neighbour has said they agree to works without being served a party wall notice and officially consenting, this won’t hold up. A neighbour must issue a written consent within 14 days of being given party wall notice.

What happens to a party wall notice when 14 days are up?

If your adjoining neighbours have given their agreement within 14 days, you can order a schedule of condition and commence building works. If your neighbours have dissented, the process of reaching an amicable agreement begins. If nothing has happened and your neighbours haven’t said one way or the other, you have to take this as dissent and begin the process of trying to reach an agreement.

Can any building work start before an agreement is reached?

The Party Wall Act is very clear that written agreement or an ‘Award’ must be given to allow works to go ahead. This means not a single piece of work, even preparing the land or the surfaces, can go ahead before this happens or the adjoining neighbours or owners may have a claim against you.

Does the Party Wall Act apply to fences?

If the fence stands on one parties land, it’s not covered under the Party Wall Act. If the fence straddles the boundary of both properties then this is likely a party wall fence and it is covered by the Act. 

Does the Party Wall Act apply to roofs?

The Party Wall Act often only applies to roofs if you live in a semi-detached or terraced property. A detached property’s roof works may only be covered by the Act if part of the works include reinforcing foundations. Any roofing work though is unlikely to be covered under the Act unless a party wall will be exposed to the elements for a length of time. Roof works are best to determine on a case by case basis. You can do so by giving us a call on 020 8502 6323. 

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