Party Wall: All You Need to Know

When it comes to property, whether that’s commercial or residential, and whether you’re buying, renting, or building, there are an abundance of things to consider. Some are simple, but some can be quite the opposite.

And ‘party wall’ is a term that often causes confusion. Affecting neighbours, residents, and businesses alike, it is important to ensure your knowledge on party wall is up to scratch, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with.

Whilst it can sound quite daunting, this article includes everything you need to know about party wall, party wall agreements, a party wall notice, the Party Wall Act and everything in between.

What is a party wall?

First things first, what exactly is a party wall?

A party wall is a wall within a building that joins two properties, forming a boundary.

There are a few types of party walls, however the main three are;

  • A wall that stands on the land of two or more owners, forming part of a building. This wall can be part of one building, or separate buildings that belong to different owners.
  • A wall that stands on the land of two owners but does not form part of a building. This can include a garden wall.
  • A wall that is on one owner’s land but is used by two or more owners to separate their buildings.

So, to put it simply, party walls stand on the land of two or more owners. They can form a part of the building, not form part of a building (such as a garden wall), or can be used to separate the buildings of two or more owners.

Who owns a party wall?

The owner of a party wall is considered as;

  • The person receiving rent or profits from land
  • The person in possession of land (except those as a mortgage or as a tenant under a yearly tenancy or less, or as a tenant at will)
  • The purchaser under an executed contract

The building owner is considered as the owner wishing to undertake building work, whereas the adjoining owner is the owner of the land and buildings adjoined to those of the building owner.

Other types of walls and boundaries

Whilst party walls are the most common, there are three others to consider and not to get confused with.

Boundary wall: This refers to a wall within a garden and is placed to separate two sections of land that are owned by different people.

Retaining wall: This refers to a wall that supports land that is higher on one side than the other and acts as a boundary wall.

Building faces: This refers to a boundary that runs along the side, front or rear face of a building.

What is covered by party wall?

Party wall covers large, extensive work, rather than smaller, less complex areas such as replastering and fitting shelves, etc.

Below, is a list of the types of work that is included in party wall;

  • Loft conversions
  • Extending above a story
  • Building a new wall for an extension
  • Demolishing and rebuilding a party wall

What is the law on party walls?

If you’re planning on undertaking building work to your business premises, home or land that will affect your neighbours, residents or fellow business owners, then you will need to consider the Party Wall Act 1996.

It’s also important to remember that this Act is separate to planning permission and building regulations approval.

Whilst the Act itself can seem rather daunting, it has been put in place to provide a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls.

Prior to the building work taking place, the building owner must give all adjoining neighbours a party wall notice, outlining their intentions as set out by the Act. The party wall notice must be given at least three months before the work is scheduled to begin.

However, adjoining owners do have the right to disagree and dispute what has been proposed.

What is a Party Wall Agreement?

A Party Wall Agreement is a legal requirement as part of the Party Wall Act 1996.

The purpose of the Party Wall Act 1996 is to allow the building works to happen, enabling them to progress without issue, and not to hinder such.

The Act has many negative connotations, when it really is quite the opposite. The Act has been put in place to protect everybody involved – from the building owner to the adjoining owner.

When do you need a party wall agreement?

If you plan on carrying out any building work near to, or on a party wall, then you will need a party wall agreement.

You must tell your neighbours and provide them with a party wall notice; however, this can be done by your chosen party wall surveyor.

Do I need a party wall surveyor?

There are a variety of different roles of party wall surveyors. They can act as an agent, consultant and/or an agreed surveyor.

The type of party wall surveyor you require depends entirely on the work you intend to carry out, but at Arc Building Consultancy, our team of party wall surveying experts are on hand to help, whatever your needs may be.

Here at Arc, we can provide the entire party wall service, and as your chosen party wall surveyor, we can put drawings together and resolve any disagreements or disputes between neighbours – as simple as that!

By working with us, you will relieve any stress and can rest assured that all work will be carried out professionally and without any problems.

In the instance that your adjoining neighbour disagrees or disputes your intended party wall works, we will work on your behalf to resolve such issues, ensuring that all work goes ahead as scheduled, in line with the Party Wall Act 1996.

To discuss your party wall queries, contact our team of expert party wall surveyors today.