What exactly is a party wall agreement?

Party wall agreement is, because as the name implies, a legal agreement established for both you and your neighbours for any construction work that affects a common wall, outbuilding, and boundary.

When is a party wall agreement required?

You must issue a notice on all legal owners of any building impacted by your proposed build two months before any work starts. If you have an architect, he or she will be able to notify you when/if this is needed. Neighbors have 14 days to answer underneath the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

If they have written consent during this time, you will not need a party wall surveyor and the work will begin. However, if they do not respond or disagree, you would need to commission a party wall agreement.

Surveyors and other firms usually charge between £65 and £100 to arrange for a notice to be served on your behalf. Alternatively, you can build your own by following the examples in the Party Wall booklet. If you use Resi, we will advise you on the best course of action. For more details, see our blog post on how to serve a party wall note.

What is the reach of a party wall agreement?

The deal, also known as a “award,” would cover three areas:

• The manner in which the planned works will be carried out by the building party.

• A “schedule of condition”; essentially, a report of the condition of the adjoining properties prior to the start of construction, so that if there is a conflict about areas impacted by the construction, this list, along with photos, provides clear evidence.

• The project’s planned result, as supported by architectural drawings.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ template will be used for the majority of documents (RICS). The agreement would provide complete information on both households as well as the surveyors involved. There is a third surveyor mentioned on the agreement, and this is not an error. If there are two surveyors involved in a party wall arrangement, a third one is brought in to resolve any conflicts that might occur. Most definitely, you will never have to deal with this silent surveyor.

Other matters protected by your agreement…

• Work hours. Residential work is only allowed on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

• Surveyors would need access to the land.

• A completion schedule and a time limit.

• Adjoining landlord’s surveyor’s fee – yes, they must pay their costs if you are the one finishing the job.

• Damage protection for the neighbouring owner offered by a single structure.

• Proof that the contractor has municipal liability protection.

If the agreement has been witnessed and signed, both parties will have 14 days to file an appeal if either side feels the agreement was written incorrectly.

Do I need the services of a party wall surveyor?

If you do not receive approval after issuing a party wall notice, you must hire at least one party wall surveyor to oversee the resulting agreement.

Following the expiration of the provided notice, you should write a mail requesting that your neighbour designate a party wall surveyor within ten days. Both parties should consent to use the same surveyor during this time. If this does not occur within the suggested 10-day timeframe (either because the other party declines or does not respond), you would be required to hire two party wall surveyors . If your neighbour does not respond in time, you can either choose their own or do it on their behalf. You’ll also need to make sure they use a different surveying company than the one you’ve hired.

Is a party wall agreement needed for an extension or loft conversion?

If you live in a semi-detached or terraced home, you can share a party wall with your neighbour. Any extension or loft conversion that affects this wall may necessitate the serving of a party wall notice, and may necessitate the signing of a party wall agreement. You must also serve notice if you want to excavate within 3 metres of a neighbouring building or complete structural work to the party wall, such as removing a chimney.

A party wall may also include garden walls constructed along a border, which is known as a party fence wall.

If you are uncertain about the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, it is worth bringing in an architect who can consult on whether or not any shared boundaries will be affected. Fortunately, at Resi, we offer free consultations to homeowners all over the country. Simply book a call with our team here if you’d like some personalised advice for your house.