What is a Party Wall?

A Party Wall is a shared wall between two neighbours in a semi-detached or terrace house. This may include garden walls on the boundary line, also known as party fence  walls. Where a wall separates buildings of different sizes, only the part that is used by both properties is a party wall, the rest belongs to the person or persons on whose land it stands.

Homeowners need to follow a set of guidelines when their building work involves a party wall or party fence wall, excavations close to neighbouring buildings and new walls at boundaries – this is mentioned in the Party Wall Act which came into existence in 1996 in England and Wales.

What is a Party Wall Notice?

A Party Wall Notice is a legal document that is prepared by a building owner or his/her representatives regarding works that he/she intends to carry out in close vicinity to a neighbouring structure or to the boundary line. The Notice is intended to inform neighbouring owners (which can include long-term leaseholders and freeholders etc) of the implications of their proposals on the neighbouring structures. There are 3 types of notices, Line of Junction, Party Structure and Notice of Adjacent Excavation.

Do you need a Party Wall Agreement for a rear extension and do you need a Party Wall Agreement for loft conversion?

The following gives you a list of types of work that are likely to need a Party Wall Notice:

  • Loft conversions and extensions
  • Basements
  • Re-building or repairing a boundary wall
  • Excavation within 3 meters to 6 meters of your neighbour’s property undefined
  • Building on, or up to the boundary between neighbours.

How soon should you serve a Party Wall Notice?

You need to serve notice on all the owners of every neighbouring property affected by the works, both freeholders and leaseholders. You don’t need planning permission for your plans to serve notice, and once you’ve done so you can take up to a year to start work.

Party Wall Notices should be served at the earliest opportunity (or at least two months before the notifiable works are intended to begin) in order to ensure that there is sufficient time for the notice to run and for preparation and service of the Award by the Surveyor/s if a dispute arises. However, notices are only valid for 12 months so caution should be given so as not to serve the notice too early either as they may then expire before works commence. This is not usually an issue with smaller domestic scenarios but should be factored into larger, longer-term projects.

Learn more about when you should serve a party structure notice. Contact us to find out more and get assistance with all your party wall issues in London.

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