& the Party Wall etc. Act 1996
You may ask why The Party Wall
etc. Act 1996 is relevant to self-builders as by their nature
new buildings do not share a wall with anyone else. Well, study
the name of the Act carefully and you will notice the 'etc.'.
It's in there because the Act does not just apply to party walls
but also to excavations adjacent to them. And 'adjacent' means
within either 3 or 6 metres depending upon the type of foundations
The 3 metre rule is straightforward;
if you intend to excavate within 3 metres of your neighbour's
building and to a depth lower than the bottom of their foundations
the work will fall within the scope of the Act. As the depth
of strip foundations have increased over time it is likely that
the foundations of a new property will be deeper than those of
an older neighbouring building.
The 6 metre rule is more complex
and is more likely to apply if you are using piled foundations.
If any part of your planned excavation intersects with a plane
drawn downwards at an angle of 45 degrees from the bottom of
the adjoining building's foundations, taken at a line level with
the face of their external wall then the work will be covered
by the Act and you will be required to serve notice.
The notice period for adjacent
excavations is 1 month although this can be shortened with the
written permission of the Adjoining Owner. There is no prescribed
format for the notice but it should contain the following information:
- Name and address of the building
- Nature and particulars of
the proposed work
- Date on which the work will
The notice must also be accompanied
by plans and sections showing the proposed excavation and a block
plan showing the location of the new building or structure.
On receiving your notice the
Adjoining Owner has 3 options:
- To consent to the work - no
Party Wall Agreement will then be required
- To dissent and concur in your
choice of surveyor as 'Agreed'
- To dissent and appoint their
own choice of surveyor
Do not assume that just because
you haven't had a reply from the adjoining owner by the end of
the 1 month notice period you are free to continue without an
award as the opposite is in fact true. No reply within 14 days
means that they are deemed to have dissented under the Act and
must appoint a surveyor. The Act appreciates that it is not easy
to make an Adjoining Owner who has ignored your notice appoint
a surveyor and makes provision for that scenario.
Following the Adjoining Owner's
deemed dissent you, or your surveyor, must write to them stating
that unless they appoint a surveyor within 10 days you will make
that appointment on their behalf. If the adjoining owner remains
silent then you should proceed to make that appointment exercising
all the care and attention that you would have had you been the
Adjoining Owner yourself. As mentioned above the Act allows for
the parties to appoint a single 'Agreed' surveyor although if
the building owner has to appoint for both sides that option
Once the surveyors are in place
they will prepare the Party
Wall Agreement (known as an Award). The agreement is a legal
document which sets out the rights and obligations of both owners.
In addition it will contain a schedule of condition of the adjoining
property to ensure that any existing defects are recorded and
cannot be wrongly attributed to the building work.
There is a 14 day appeal period
following publication of the award although by that stage the
Building Owner is keen to get started and usually commences work
Article by Justin Burns of
Barry Party Wall Surveyors
Postscript -some this article
was first written, Justin Burns has set up a blog, where he answers
common questions on the subject of Party Walls -you can find
it at www.partywalladvice.com
. There is also a useful Party Wall Notice Generator at www.mypropertyguide.co.uk/partywall/notice/generator.
- Boundary Problems
-find out more about property boundaries in order either to resolve
a dispute with the neighbours or, better still, to prevent a
situation escalating into a costly and time-consuming dispute.
of Party Wall Surveyors
-non for profit organisation dealing with party wall matters
-they can provide a list of accredited surveyors in your area,
as well as useful background information and frther reading.
- Party Wall Act -the Party Wall Act in full from HSMO
- Party Wall Guidance -from the Royal Institute of Chartered
- Peter Barry -Party Wall Surveyors in London.