Do I Need a Party Wall Agreement if I'm not working on a Party Wall?

Repair of a garden wall

Many homeowners, landlords and construction professionals will be familiar with the concept of the legislation governing the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (1996 Act). The primary aim of the 1996 Act as we see it rests on the principles of voluntary agreement between neighbours, and when required seeks to deal with the interests of neighbouring owners fairly and amicably by means of appointing surveyor(s) who will adjudge and Award on works on opposing sides of a boundary.

Is my project notifiable under the 1996 Act?

Domestic homeowners will be familiar with the concept of a party wall being the wall separating a terraced or semi-detached property, however party walls also exist within commercial and non-residential properties such as offices and churches, in essence, any wall separating a boundary between two neighbours can be a party wall matter.

In fact, the associated definitions of notifiable work under the 1996 Act is quite extensive, beyond work to a party wall, work against and or within a prescribed distance of a neighbouring ‘building’ or ‘structure’ can fall under the legal requirements of the 1996 Act and require a party wall award (agreement).

For many projects a designer will advise their client of their obligation under the 1996 Act, however the 1996 Act is also applicable for repairs and maintenance works where in many instances a designer is not involved.

As such, notifiable work may include works to garden walls, chimneys and digging.

What work is covered by the 1996 Act?

Inspection of the Party Wall Act requirements

These works are normally associated with extensions, conversions, renovations and new development and include:

  • New construction on or near a boundary

  • Inserting a damp-proof course

  • Insertion of flashing and other weatherproofing details between adjoining premises

  • Cutting into the party wall to receive a beam or lintel

  • Making good or repairing

  • Demolition and rebuilding

  • Cutting away a projection such as footings, flue or chimney breast

  • Exposing a party wall

  • Digging within 3 or 6 metres of a neighbouring structure (depending on the depth).

Minor works such as drilling to hang a wall unit of shelf o plastering would not generally be regarded as necessary.

But, I have Planning Permission and Building Regulation Approval

There is a common misconception that obtaining the required permissions and approvals from the Local Authority mitigates Party Wall requirement’s, this is not the case. Party wall matters are not dealt with by local authorities, and are in addition to Planning and Building Regulation requirements. For example, the Local Authority will not survey a neighbouring property prior to commencement of work and cannot Award for damages occasioned by the works.

If my work is notifiable what is my next step?

The next step is serve what is known as a Party Wall Notice on any applicable Adjoining Owner. Check our TK Surveying Groups FREE publication guide to find out more.

The Clear Guide to Party Wall Notices for Homeowners and Landlords

Top tip?

If possible, we first advocate speaking with your neighbour before sending them a formal Notice. Although there is no legal requirement for a building owner to inform their neighbour prior to serving a Party Wall Notice it will give your neighbour opportunity to learn more about the 1996 Act and raise any concerns prior to formal proceedings, which will inevitably lead to a much speedier response to the formal Notice.

To find our more about your rights and responsibilities as a homeowner and landlord we have published a FREE simplified Clear Guide to Party Wall

The Clear Guide to Party Wall for Homeowners and Landlords

Do you need Party Wall Assistance? Feel free to get in touch with one of our friendly consultants who will be more than happy to assist you.

Please note that this article and its content is intended for guidance purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. As each situation is based on its own merit, we highly recommend you speak with a party wall expert for further advice and guidance.

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