Row of cows at farm in Shropshire

Party Walls – a shared liability

28/11/22Party Walls – a shared liability

We work with a huge range of clients and we have to be aware of many forms of building regulation. One such piece of legislation is the Party Wall Act 1996. One of our surveyors is currently in the process of helping a client with a renovation project on a holiday home. So far they have put together a set of scaled plans and a schedule of works, which has been put out to tender. The project has now reached the stage of the tender process where we are inviting contractors to price for the work. Part of the renovation works requires work being carried out on the party wall – a shared wall between neighbouring properties. We have since served a party wall notice, informing the owner of the adjoining property of our intentions.

Partly responsible

A party wall is one that separates adjoining buildings, and both owners have partial ownership of it. The Party Wall Act outlines what you need to know if you are planning to carry out work that will affect a shared wall between you and your neighbours – say between semi-detached houses, or a terraced property. These regulations affect all kinds of projects, from extensions to loft conversions – any project that will affect a shared wall. When the work is carried out, any excavations, alterations or modifications must not affect your neighbour’s wall in any way. It especially mustn’t undermine it, or place undue extra weight or stress on it. Prior to commencing the work, you should make them aware of this, by serving them a Party Wall Agreement. You should also ensure a qualified surveyor is in place, to oversee any possible problems or damage.

Structural integrity

The Party Wall Act is legislation applicable in England and Wales that aims to pre-empt construction-related disagreements between neighbours. It outlines a clear legal framework for managing disputes should they arise. The act stops building work carried out by one neighbour undermining the structural integrity of shared walls of neighbouring properties. By the letter of the law, the owner of one side commits trespass if they carry out works to the wall without their neighbour’s consent.

In other instances, if you’re building an extension, the act also covers the excavation of foundations close to neighbouring buildings or garden boundary walls. The Party Wall Act Notice is a notification you ‘serve’ on your neighbours, informing them of the planned work. The forms you need can be found online and should be presented to your neighbour, along with an explanatory booklet, two months before commencement. Your neighbour will have 14 days to answer, either with an approval or rejection. You don’t need to have secured planning permission for your plans to serve this notice.

As for progress on our renovation project on the holiday home? Since the notice has been served, we have not heard from the owner, though this could be the registered address that we found on the land registry is wrong. With this in mind, we will be putting a notice on the door of the adjoining property owner’s property, to inform them of the situation and the work to be undertaken.

If you are looking at embarking on a development project and are unsure how to proceed with certain aspects of it, it’s best to contact a professional surveyor, who can offer advice and share their knowledge on the best way to proceed.

Call us today on 01691 610317  
or   email