What is the Party Wall Act?

There’s nothing like building work to test how well you really know your neighbours. You can expect the usual tussles over views, light and boundaries, but these can become even more animated when there’s a Party Wall Act agreement to be had!

What is the Party Wall Act?

The Party Wall Act exists to protect the concerns of neighbouring landowners and to facilitate smooth negotiations with regard to construction works. Party walls stand on the land of two or more owners and form part of a building. This can also refer to garden walls. In accordance with the Party Wall Act 1996, you must tell your neighbours if you want to carry out any building work near or on your shared property boundary, or ‘party wall’, in England and Wales.

In accordance with the Act, it will be most likely necessary to issue a Party Wall Notice if a basement is being constructed or extended. Current regulations state that this is the case if a new structure is less than six metres away and lower than a line drawn downwards at 45° from the bottom of the neighbour’s foundation. It is also the case when undertaking an excavation or construction of foundations and basement walls within three metres of an adjacent building or structure owned by others.

How do I obtain a Party Wall Agreement?

There are several ways to go about obtaining a Party Wall Agreement. The first and cheapest option is to issue a standard letter that each neighbour signs. Of course, it helps if you get on with your neighbours in this instance!

Alternatively, you may need to instruct a Party Wall Surveyor who acts in the best interests of both parties. This may include coming up with new structural engineer designs and drawings that all parties are comfortable with.

The worse case scenario is if each party has to instruct their own Party Wall Surveyor. Not only will this add valuable time to the build, but it will add additional costs too.

Where can I find help to do this?

At Cool Basements, obtaining Party Wall Agreements are all part of the inhouse service. We work hard to keep the neighbours on side and have a standard document that we will run through with each party. Should the need arise, our experienced Party Wall Surveyors will act on your behalf to secure the appropriate party wall agreements.

We also have the benefit of Party Wall Insurance, an extra reassurance for our clients should anything untoward happen. This covers unlikely events, such as if cracks appear in a neighbour’s house once excavation begins.

More information can be found on the government’s website at https://www.gov.uk/party-walls-building-works and www.planningportal.co.uk

Peter Little
The Cool Basements Company Ltd.