The Party Wall etc. Act 1996: What you need to know

Why would an Act of Parliament have ‘etc.’ in its title? The reason is that the Act covers not only works to Party Walls but also other issues. Here, our property expert, David Plaskow, explains some of the other issues associated with the Act.

The most common other issue associated and controlled by the Party Wall procedure in the event of a dispute is excavation that is within 3m or, in some cases for deep excavation, within 6m of a neighbour’s building or structures. Even for typically built detached houses in a residential area there is usually only around 2m between the two buildings so work of excavation that is deeper than a neighbour’s structure is very often under 2m away and controlled by the procedure. It is worth noting that it is almost inevitable that neighbouring properties built in the 1930s or perhaps the 1950s have foundations shallower than today’s requirements. 

The procedure generally came into effect in 1996 throughout the country but had been established in central London for many years. With co-operation, this is a positive arrangement and designed to reduce dispute issues that may have occurred before the legislation had been brought into practice. If works are notifiable, either a surveyor or the owner of a property can serve notice upon their neighbouring owner.  The notice does need to include a number of key pieces of information to be effective. 

The neighbouring owners can consent to the works stated on the notice, however, if they are concerned they can indicate that a difference/dispute has occurred. We have to use the word dispute but they are often quite amicable differences and concerns. Where a difference has arisen a surveyor can be appointed to resolve the matter. This can either be an Agreed Surveyor who acts independently for both parties but is paid by the person who deals with the work.

Alternatively, a neighbouring occupier may wish to appoint their own surveyor and the reasonable costs of their own surveyor will need to be met by the person who owns the building where the development work is occurring. Once a surveyor is appointed an inspection of the relevant parts of the neighbour’s property will be completed, a Schedule of Condition prepared, together with an agreement known as an Award.

Following the completion of works the same surveyor completes a reinspection of the relevant parts of the neighbour’s building and issues a statement to confirm that either no damage has been caused or if some damage has occurred that repairs need to be completed to resolve the matter or alternatively sets out a cash settlement to cover the costs of putting any damage right.

A small sample of works included within the legislation:

  • Excavation at a deeper depth than the neighbour’s structures/foundations that are within 3m or, in the case of very deep foundations, even 6m away from new work.
  • Cutting into a party structure.  This often occurs when pockets are cut into a party wall for the insertion of a beam to support a new structure e.g. a loft room.
  • The cutting away of a chimney breast on the party structure.
  • The building of a new wall on the boundary line where none existed before.

It would be necessary to facilitate access to the neighbour’s property in order to finish the wall correctly. 

Our consultant surveyor David Plaskow FRICS has over thirty years’ experience as a Chartered Surveyor in this area and has been dealing with the Party Wall procedure since its inception over the country in 1996.

If you wish to receive a general advice note with reference to Party Wall Procedure work, please contact David Plaskow FRICS or Stephen Ansell FRICS at 6 High Street, Rayleigh, Essex SS6 7EG or by email at surveys@hairandson.co.uk.

SPECIALIST ADVICE, VALUATIONS AND SURVEYS

We provide an extensive range of professional services to private individuals and corporate clients throughout South and East Essex.

From Building Surveys to specialist Party Wall advice and Valuation services, working on behalf of new and established clients, solicitors and lending institutions, we have the experience and expertise to carry out a range of services throughout South and East Essex. Call 01702 47 00 55 or email surveys@hairandson.co.uk.

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