What is the Party Wall; will it affect my extension?

This is one of those expressions that is not as exciting as it sounds… The Party Wall. It really has nothing to do with a party at all. In fact, it is very misleading with how exciting it actually is as it really is the opposite of exciting. The Party Wall Act is to do with your home and restrictions on your extension. The premise behind it is to protect both you and your neighbours from outrageous extensions in your neighbourhood, but you could also be handed a hefty bill if you don’t follow the correct procedure with your extension.

This blog takes a look at the Party Wall Act, the role of your neighbours and some of the restrictions you will be faced with. This is an act you need to be aware of before you begin planning your extension to your home.

What is a Party Wall:

Simply put, a party wall divides two buildings with different owners with the boundary between ownerships placed at the centre of the wall in most cases. There are two types of Party Wall:

• Type A: A wall that stands across the boundary of land belonging to two different owners or more. The boundary is within the wall.
• Type B: The wall stands primarily on one owner’s land but is used by both owners to separate their buildings. So the boundary line will be along the side of the wall not in the centre.

There is also a party fence wall that is not part of the building. It stands astride the boundary line and is used to separate those owner’s lands.

The Party Wall Act 1996

The Party Wall Act was implemented in July 1997 and applies throughout England and Wales. It is a resource to help solve disputes between homeowners in relation to party walls, boundaries and extensions. It was created to ensure building works are carried out lawfully and with minimum inconvenience to neighbours.

What is a Party Wall Agreement?

The building owner has to draw up a written notice of the building proposal for the neighbours. This proposal needs to be given to the neighbours 1 to 2 months before the building work is set to begin. If the agreement isn’t sent out within a decent time frame then it can cause huge delays to building work, additional legal fees, court costs and possible legal proceedings.

The neighbours have 14 days to issue a written reply if they do not favour the new building work. If they dispute the proposal then a surveyor will be appointed to give a fair and impartial award (agreement). This award will deal with the right to execute the works, the time and manner of executing the works and any other issues that arise between the different owners. The surveyor will also draw up a Schedule of Condition to protect both parties in the event of a later claim for damages. It is likely that the agreement will also contain information on how the works should be carried out so both parties are aware of the processes that will follow. The building owner is usually responsible for funding the agreement.

What is the worst-case scenario?

If you are in an area subjected to the Party Wall Act and you do not follow the correct procedure you could end be being sued by your neighbour, taken to court (at your expense) and stopped from completing your work. If you damage your neighbours property in the process of building your new extension and you haven’t followed the Party Wall Act requirements you could also be responsible for a huge amount of compensation for the damage as well as more legal costs. The risks are just not worth starting your extension earlier. Wait until you have followed the correct procedure to protect yourself.

2 top tips to survive the Party Wall:

1. Ensure you serve your neighbours notice of the building work 2 months before the building is due to start.
2. Getting a single surveyor for both you and your neighbour can save you somewhere in the region of £500 to £1,000. This surveyor is called an ‘agreed surveyor’.

Have you had an experience with the Party Wall that led to a disagreement with your neighbour? Tell us about it below!!!

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