How the Party Wall Act Affects Your Building Work
Do you intend to do the one of the following as a building owner:
• Excavate not far away from a neighbouring structure or building?
• Build at or on the boundary with another existing property?
• Work on an existing ceiling, wall or floor structure that’s shared with another property?
If you’re planning on doing any of these works, then you have to find out if the works is falling within the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 scope. The Act was introduced in 1997 by the Governments, covering the whole of Wales as well as England, for building works regulation to adjoining properties. It’s intended to allow work to continue while protecting adjoining owners plus occupiers who might end up being affected by the work.
Typically, under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the building owner who wants to conduct such work has to give notification inadequate time (in writing) to the adjoining owners of the work that has been proposed. Adjoining owners can either be occupiers or owners of adjacent commercial and industrial buildings or land.
If you are sharing a party fence wall, party wall or a party structure with someone else, the provisions of the Act may govern you. Party walls is a dividing partition that is between two adjoining buildings shared by the owners of each business or residence. Floors that are between flats are also party structures. The boundary walls can also be party fence walls.
Examples of work that are governed by the act include extensions, loft conversions, structural work on the party walls like chimney breast removal, excavation close to another structure or building to a depth exceeding that of the foundation of your neighbour and modification to masonry party garden walls.
The building owner is required to start serving notice on the adjoining occupier/owner if the Party Wall Act is applying to the planned work. The work can continue upon written assent by the adjoining owner. It’s advisable that you take a SOC (Schedule of Condition). SOC is a factual record of the condition of a structure or building before work begins. If the adjoining owner doesn’t agree with the proposed work, then the Party Wall Act helps to settle the dispute.
If a dispute arises between owners, the Party Wall Act provides a series of steps for appointing surveyors. The appointed surveyors can resolve disputes using way of an award and specify the format that the work should be carried out.
An award permits the owner of the building the right of conducting work under the Party Wall Act while making sure the work will be done in a way that protects the interests of the adjoining owners. The surveyor might inspect the work while it’s going on to make sure that everything is being carried out fairly and properly.
What Should I Do?
Before starting any building work, you should check to find out whether the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies. If you fail to comply with the Party Wall Act, it can lead to the work being illegal.
If you are in doubt, you should consult a party wall surveyor who is qualified and a Faculty (FPWS) member ( for instance, Jason Edworthy), as they have already been trained how to advise on matters concerning the party wall and are also bound by the Code of Conduct set by Faculty.
Feel free to contact Jason Edworthy for party wall agreement, or if you have a dispute.