Party Wall Act

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 applies throughout England and Wales.

The Act covers: 

  • New Building works at or astride the boundary between two properties. 
  • Structural work affecting an existing shared/party wall, including repairs, alterations, extending or reducing the wall, cutting in to the wall and underpinning.
  • This to include loft conversions and cellar excavations to provide living accommodation.
  • Excavating or constructing foundations within three metres of a neighbour's building where the new foundations will go deeper than the neighbour's.
  • Excavating, or constructing foundations within six metres of a neighbour's building where the new foundations will cut a line drawn downwards at 45 degrees from the bottom of the neighbour's foundations.

Serve Statutory Notice

If you are the owner proposing to have any of the above the works carried out you must find out whether the works are governed by the Act. If so, you must serve statutory notice (one or two months depending upon the works) on the adjoining owners and get agreement to the works, before you start.

If your neighbours do not agree in writing, the preferred solution would be to appoint one surveyor to draw up a Party Wall Award. If you cannot agree a surveyor, then each side should appoint their own surveyor. The Party Wall Award will set out what can and can't be done in accordance with the Act .

Warning: If you are the adjoining owner and receive a party wall notice, you must contest the proposed work even if you are friendly with you neighbours. If you agree the proposed work then under the Party Wall Act you have surrendered all of your rights for compensation and your only reddress will be through common law & through the county court system which will could take a long time and be very expensive. The Party wall Act 1996 only offers protection when there is dispute and is designed to prevent the need for solicitors and the county court system.

Important: When you recieve a notice, we suggest you agree to a single surveyor being appointed. You may appoint your own surveyor or you may agree to the building owner's surveyor. Where a surveyor is appointed a schedule of condition of your property will be prepared (in case any damage is caused) and a Party Wall Award will be prepared. Guidance Notes: If you ignore a notice that has been served on you, it will make no difference, the Party Wall Act will continue to progress with out you and a surveyor will be appointed in your absence.

A breach of the Act can give rise to payments of compensation or an injunction!

It covers three main areas: 

  • Construction of new wall on /or aside the boundary between adjoining lands Section 1
  • Works to an existing party wall or party fence wall or floor and includes repairs/disrepair to shared garden walls Section 2
  • Excavation within 3m/6m from a neighbouring building Section 6  

The Party Wall Act was introduced to govern disputes between property owners where work must be carried out which affects a party wall or involves excavating close to a neighbouring building. A party wall is a wall shared by two properties, such as the wall which divides with a pair of semi-detached houses or properties in a terrace.

Before any work which falls within the scope of the Act can be undertaken a notice must be served on any affected adjoining owners and their written consent obtained.

Work which is typically covered by the Party Wall Act 1996 includes:

  • Extensions – both loft conversions and ground based
  • Damp proofing works
  • Structural alterations

The Adjoining Owner

The first point at which you become aware of your neighbour’s plans may be when a formal written notice from their representative drops through your door. When you receive such a notice you should seek advice before signing an acknowledgement form and waiving your legal rights.

The notice should offer you the opportunity to appoint a surveyor to limit the risk of any problems occurring – your surveyor’s duties will include preparing a record of the condition of your property prior to the work starting and checking it upon completion. These records will be essential if a defect comes to light which may be attributable to the party wall work. The building owner must pay the reasonable costs of your surveyor.

The Building Owner

If you are planning work which comes within the scope of the Act you must notify any affected Adjoining Owners. This should be in the form of a written notice and is generally served two months’ prior to commencement of the work - or one month in the case of excavation works.

The notice gives adjoining owners the right to appoint a surveyor of their choice to help safeguard their property against damage. You must bear the reasonable costs of both yours and your neighbour’s surveyors.

The surveyors will prepare a document setting out the rights and responsibilities of the respective owners called a Party Wall Award - this is a legally binding document. As well as a schedule of the adjoining property it will contain details of the planned works and guidelines on other matters such as permissible working hours and protective measures required. 

For further advice you can contact us on:  07976 125887 or 0121 236 2070

You can also email us on:

A Friendly Guide to the Party Wall Act