A Brief Explaination of The Party Wall etc Act of 1996 Explained

Party Wall Advice

Any construction work in a densely developed urban area, including new building, renovations, extensions, or excavations, is likely to have an impact on a Party Wall. A wall is defined as a ôparty wallö by the Party Wall etc Act of 1996 if it meets either of the following two conditions:

  1. The wall stands astride a boundary of land belonging to two or more different owners; this means that approximately half of the given wall is situated on land belonging to at least two different parties. The party wall may be part of a single building, it may separate two or more buildings, or it could serve as a ôparty fence wallö separating two properties. Note that it must be an actual wall û a wooden fence, for example, does not qualify.
  2. A wall is also deemed to be a ôparty wallö when it stand entirely on a single ownerÆs property but it is used by two or more owners to separate their buildings. A good example is where one owner built a wall, but another owner has built up against it without constructing their own private wall.

If your project involves a party wall, you are required to provide formal written notice to all affected neighbours usually at least two months before beginning work. In a case of a new unshared boundary wall, or for most excavation works, you may only have to give notice one month beforehand. The responsibility for the procedure and related costs entirely lies with the property owner initiating the work.

Besides the basic definitions of a party wall noted above, some owners fail to realize that the Act also covers structural work performed on a shared ceiling or floor and therefore often requires notice to neighbours living above or below you. Other possible jobs requiring a party wall agreement might be modification of a shared structural beam in or on a wall, underpinning a party wall or a wall within 3 metres of an adjoining building, or inserting a flashing into an adjoining building or a party wall.

The best Party Wall etc Act Advice possible is this: if you are at all unsure about whether or not the Act applies to either the work that you are planning or to work you have discovered a neighbour is doing, seek professional advice. It is far better to be safe than to be sorry. There are many professional and experienced Party Wall Surveyors available to assist you. ôThe Pyramus & Thisbee Clubö and the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors are organizations of people from various construction fields with specific knowledge in party wall matters and are generally willing to help you informally (their web sites have contact details). The Association of Building Engineers (ABE) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) are both additional professional bodies willing to provide general and informal party wall advice. Lastly, you can contact the Department for Communities and Local Government for further Party Wall etc Act explanation.