Party Wall etc Act 1966

Andrew WilliamsParty Wall

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 – Misconception.

Dealing with a misconception: the Act is an enabling Act. It is not designed to prevent a building owner from carrying legitimate work.

Who pays?

In most cases the Building owner (the person doing the work) pays all Party Wall Surveyors costs.

s fees? Why should I use the Party Wall etc Act?

Some people ignore the Act. If they do and if a dispute arises, solicitors usually get involved. The solicitor in turn may consult a barrister for legal opinion. Most solicitors will try to resolve the issues using common law and this can drag on for months. Put simply, legal costs are likely to far exceed the cost of a Party Wall Award. Legal Action is also stressful. Party Wall Awards are relatively quick and stress free. Once an award is in place, the parties are protected by the Act.

The Act

When the Act was made law in England and Wales ( Party Wall Awards had previously only been used in London) it introduced a procedure for resolving disputes between owners of neighbouring properties, arising as a result of one owner’s intention to carry out works which could affect neighbouring properties. The Act is not just for domestic work but covers commercial and industrial work too.

The Act comes into force when:-

Works are being carried out on the line of junction: (boundary.)

Works are being carried out to a Party Wall: (A common wall between two properties.)

Deep foundations or drains etc are being constructed close to an adjoining property and there is a danger of undermining to the adjoining foundations.

The Award

Once a Party Wall Award his been drawn up by suitably qualified surveyors, the Building Owner and Adjoining owner are protected by the Act. This prevents costly actions under common law.

Notices (Works prior to the Award being granted)

Notice Requirements under the Act The Act provides a statutory framework to enable a Building Owner to carry out building works. A building owner (or his appointed surveyor) must give notice to all adjoining owners of any planned works are covered by the Act. The notice requirements will depend on the type of works that are to be undertaken.

Existing walls between terraced/semi detached properties (Party Walls)

Works to an existing party wall require two months’ notice before the works commence.

New walls or party fence walls Building a new wall or party fence wall on the line of junction (boundary) requires one month’s notice.

Excavations Building (or excavating) within three or six metres of the adjoining owner’s buildings requires one month’s notice.

Once the notice/s have been sent.

Once an adjoining owner has received the notice they should reply in 14 days and: Agree to the works in writing Dissent and agree a joint party wall surveyor If the adjoining owner does nothing, after the initial 14 days have elapsed, a 10 day notice can be sent. If that is ignored the Building Owner’s surveyor can appoint another surveyor to act for the adjoining owner.