What Is The Party Wall Act and Why Should I Care?

Click here to discover why the law requires property owners carrying out certain types of building work to gain consent from their neighbours

Homeowners whose property shares a boundary with a neighbour are advised to get to grips with the Party Wall Act before planning any remodelling of their house, advises a London-based skip hire broker.

What Is The Party Wall Act and Why Should I Care?

Paul Tinton, founder of ProSkips provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to of assets.

These cover a range of walls and boundaries and include

  • Walls that separate two semi-detached properties
  • Common walls covering the front or back of a semi-detached property that stretch from one property into the next
  • Garden walls that cross over the boundary into a neighbouring property
  • Ceilings and floors of flats

The law requires property owners who are carrying out building work governed by the Act to serve a Party Wall Notice on every neighbour whose property could be affected.

Details the Party Wall Notice must contain include:

  • The name of the property owner or owners planning to carry out the work
  • The address where the work is to be carried out
  • The names of all neighbouring parties
  • A brief description of the proposed work
  • An estimated start date and completion date
  • The date the notice was served
  • A detailed drawing, in the case of excavation work

The notice must be served at least two months before the builders come on site and at least one month before any excavation gets underway. The type of work covered by the Party Wall Act include extensions and basement and loft conversions that either affect a boundary line or involve digging within 3 or 6 metres of a neighbouring property.

The good news is once you have served notice work can go ahead immediately if your neighbours agree in writing. If they object or fail to reply, however, the matter goes into dispute, and this not only delays work but could prove expensive.

Failure to serve notice could also be a costly error if your builders cause damage to the neighbour’s property, says a spokesman from Paramount Properties. The Party Wall Act gives surveyors the power to deal with any disputes about damage, rather than common law.

Because surveyors cannot award damages for stress and inconvenience, unlike a court. the cost of resolving disputes is typically much lower if dealt with under the Party Wall Act.

Property experts say the Party Wall Act demonstrates the benefits of remaining on good terms with your neighbours, or at least keeping two-way lines of communication open.

A spokesman for Fulham estate agent Lawsons & Daughters says: “A large number of homeowners in this part of London have carried out extensive alterations on their properties in an attempt to increase their value.

“Disputes involving property boundaries can not only cause a lot of aggravation, they can increase the overall cost of building work by a considerable amount. In our experience, disagreements between neighbours most commonly occur when one party fails to inform the other of their intentions.”