When do I need a party wall agreement?
- A party wall is the shared wall, usually between a terrace or semi-detached house, and divides the homes of two separate owners
- It also includes garden walls built over a boundary and excavations close to a neighbour’s property (within three or six meters, depending on the depth of the new foundations).
- In the home, Party Wall Agreements are most commonly needed for building works that involve loft conversions, the insertion of damp proof courses and the digging of new foundations (as would be required in building an extension)
Obtaining permission for party wall building works
- Before party wall building works can start, the homeowner (Building Owner) needs a written Party Wall Agreement from all affected neighbours (Adjoining Owners)
- Or a surveyor has to be appointed to prepare a Party Wall Award (the agreed document outlining how the works should progress).
- To start this process, the homeowner has to serve a Party Wall Notice on their neighbours, in writing, about the planned party wall works
Serving a party wall notice
Serving notice can be done using appropriate an party wall surveyor. A letter of acknowledgement for the neighbour to complete and return is usually included.
A homeowner has to give two months written notice on building works which affect a party wall or boundary, or one month’s notice for excavations.
Planning permission is not needed to serve a Party Wall notice, and once notice has been served, the homeowner has up to a year to start work.
Once notice is served, a neighbour has fourteen days to respond, after which, there are three possible outcomes:
i) The neighbour gives assent in writing providing the homeowner will put right any problems
- In such straightforward cases, there is no need to appoint a party wall surveyor or have a Party Wall Award.
- The homeowner should take dated pictures of the party wall and ideally have agreed written notes of any cracks, with copies for both.
- Or a surveyor could be appointed to assess and prepare a schedule of condition to minimise the risk of disputes later. This should be done shortly before the work starts.
ii) If the neighbour dissents (or if they do NOT reply within 14 days, in which case, they are assumed to have dissented), a Party Wall Award is required
- In this case, both homeowner and neighbour can appoint ONE Agreed Surveyor, usually within ten days, who can act impartially for both.
- The agreed surveyor should be independent and NOT the same surveyor the homeowner might be using for their own works. Otherwise, their neighbour is unlikely to view the surveyor as neutral.
- The Agreed Surveyor produces an “Award” which details the works proposed and a schedule of condition, including pictures, of the neighbour’s home.
- Some architects are also able to act as surveyors.
iii) Each owner appoints their own surveyor. However, this is expensive for the homeowner who is responsible for the costs of their neighbour’s surveyor as well as their own.
It is important that all these options available to the neighbour, are explained clearly in the notice.
Here at Lynch Brother Homes we are happy to guide you every step of the way, we have a nominated Party Wall Surveyor in place ready to take the stress away from your projects.