Party Wall Agreement advice

The Essential Guide to Party Wall Agreements in the UK

22 May 2024 | Written by Innovus

Building Solutions

Are you planning some home renovations or extensions that will impact shared walls or boundaries with neighbouring properties? If so, you’ll likely need to get a party wall agreement first before any work can legally proceed.

A party wall agreement is a legally binding document that sets out rules and regulations around construction work near or on a party wall or boundary. Its main purpose is to protect your neighbours and avoid disputes over things like potential damage or right of access during the project.

Getting proper party wall agreements and following the associated procedures is crucial. Not doing so can result in disputes, delays, and even having to undo work if done without the right approvals – costing you significant time and money.

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about party wall agreements, including what they cover, when you need one, the process for getting an agreement and conditions that may be included.

What is Considered a Party Wall?

A party wall is a shared wall or structure where semi-detached or terraced buildings stand side-by-side. Some common examples include:

  • Walls straddling the boundary between two properties (such as the walls of semi-detached or terraced houses)
  • Shared walls within a single building divided into flats or maisonettes
  • Garden walls or boundary walls separating buildings or land belonging to different owners

In some cases, excavations or foundations built near neighbouring properties may also be considered as impacting on a “party structure” and need a party wall agreement.

When Do You Need a Party Wall Agreement?

According to the Party Wall Act of 1996, you’ll need to get a party wall agreement for most construction work that impacts on a party wall or structure. This includes many common home renovations and extensions like:

  • Building an extension against or up to a shared party wall
  • Carrying out a loft conversion that involves cutting into a party wall
  • Removing an internal party wall (such as a chimney breast)
  • Excavating foundations or basements near a neighbour’s property
  • Rebuilding a party wall that is dilapidated or damaged
  • Cutting into a party wall to take load-bearing beams or make openings
  • Building a second storey that involves raising a party wall

There are some exceptions where a party wall agreement may not be needed, such as internal alterations like re-plastering or electrical work that doesn’t go through the party wall. The key factor is any work that could potentially undermine or impact the party wall or foundation of the adjoining property.

If you fail to get a party wall agreement when it’s required, you can face enforcement action and be forced to undo work already carried out, leading to major delays, costs, and potential disputes.

The Party Wall Agreement Process

If you need a party wall agreement for planned building works, the process starts with serving written notice on all adjoining property owners at least two months before work begins. This notice provides details on the nature and timeline of the work.

The adjoining owner then has 14 days to respond with either:

  1. A notice stating they consent to the works going ahead, or;
  2. A notice dissenting and raising an objection.

If no dissent notice is received after 14 days, you can go ahead with the planned works. However, if the adjoining owner objects, a party wall surveyor or surveyors will need to be appointed.

Agreed Surveyors or Party Wall Surveyors

If adjoining owners dissent, both parties must appoint an “agreed surveyor” to act impartially and resolve matters. If they cannot agree on a single surveyor, each appoints their own “party wall surveyor” who jointly administers the resolution of the matter.

The role of the party wall surveyor(s) is to consider the proposed works, mediate between parties and make an impartial “award” decision on how the work should proceed in line with the Party Wall Act. This can include conditions like:

  • Setting out the scope and hours for the building works
  • Access and notification requirements
  • Measures to minimize disturbance or damage to adjoining owners
  • Setting out protective works to prevent damage (e.g. underpinning)
  • Agreement on costs and payment of surveyor fees

The award made is a legally binding document that both parties must comply with. If work is not undertaken in line with the award, it is viewed as trespass and further resolutions can be sought through the county court.

Costs and Expenses for Party Wall Matters

Party wall surveyors’ fees are typically paid by the building owner who is undertaking the works, unless agreed otherwise between parties. The costs involved can vary greatly based on the complexity of the works and any dissent or disputes raised.

For minor works without disagreements, surveyor fees could start from £600 – £1,000 + VAT for administering the party wall award. More complex projects with objections and multiple surveyors involved can result in much higher costs of £2,000 – £4,000+ per surveyor.

If no agreement can be reached between neighbours, the dispute resolution process could require going to the county court and incurring legal fees of £5,000 – £10,000 or more.

How Innovus Can Help with Party Wall Agreements

At Innovus, our team of expert party wall surveyors have decades of combined experience managing all types of party wall agreements and complex residential and commercial projects.

We are regulated by RICS and act impartially, whether appointed by the building owner carrying out works or as the agreed surveyor for the adjoining owners with properties impacted.

Our surveyors provide detailed expertise in party wall matters, guiding both parties through the process, negotiating potential disputes, and making fair awards to ensure projects can proceed smoothly while protecting everyone’s interests.

For all types of building works near boundaries or party walls – from simple extensions and loft conversions to larger new build developments – trust Innovus’s professional party wall surveyors to administer the required agreements and notices properly.

By understanding your responsibilities under the Party Wall Act, serving proper notice, and following procedures like getting party wall surveyors appointed if required, you can avoid potential delays and costs further down the line.

Don’t take any risks with party wall matters. When undertaking building works that affect shared boundaries or walls, always consult professional party wall surveyors like Innovus who can guide you through the process correctly from start to finish.

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