It is probably fair to say that a party wall is something that isn’t common knowledge to your average Joe, although it is something that many homeowners will need to know about when planning any building work. This article outlines all you need to know about party wall.
A Party Wall or Structure is a structure that is shared by two adjacent properties. It doesn’t just include walls however, but can be any part of your home/property that adjoins with a neighbour. So for example, a person who lives in a semi-detached house or in a block of flats is sure to have at least one, if not more shared walls. This could be the walls either side of your flats or the ceiling of your home and floor of your upstairs neighbour. As always there are some variations and you shodul check with a party wall surveyor.
So, now that you know what a party wall is, you will then need to find out if you need what is known as a party wall agreement or ‘award’ when planning any building work on the said wall. If the work does fall under the party wall act, you will need to inform all adjoining owners of your plans at least two months before the work begins.
Best practise is to try and reach a friendly agreement with a neighbour, rather than resorting to getting the law involved. It is crucial though that you notify neighbours of your proposed plans through what is known as a party wall notice. You can download the relevant forms and templates online and then hand it to them. Common courtesy would be to do this in person. Speaking to your neighbour face to face is much more likely to have a good response and therefore get your plans accepted. Your neighbour will then need to respond to the notice within two weeks to either provide their consent, which allows the work to go ahead as planned, or to oppose the plans and reject the notice. If your neighbour rejects the notice, or fails to respond within 14 days, you are then deemed to be in a party wall dispute and each party will need to appoint a surveyor so that an agreement can be made.
The two surveyors, would then work together to come to a solution and would need to draw up an ‘award’. This would contain information on:
- When the work is to be carried out
- How it is to be carried out
- Any additional work required
- A record of the condition of the neighbours property before work begins
The surveyors ‘award’ is then classed as the final and definitive and work can begin. There are many questions that can arise with Party Walls and if you need more information or help, you can search online, or get in contact with a chartered surveyor.