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Party Walls

What do we mean when we talk about Party Walls?

Party Walls is a term used for when building works will affect the adjoining owner who shares the Party Wall between two properties. In relation to what is required, we will discuss this in more detail below. The main legislation for this falls under the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

What is the definition of a Party Wall?

A party wall is a wall that sits directly on the boundary of land between two (and sometimes more) different owners. Good examples include the walls that separate terraced or semi-detached houses — or walls that make up the boundary between two gardens (party fence walls).

In cases, the definition can be quite confusing. In simplistic terms, a wall that separates a terraced houses can be classed a Party Wall. However, what happens with flats? 

Although the term Party Walls, seems to be aimed towards a physical wall, which most people will assume is a brickwork or clockwork structure, the term actually means the divider between two units, whether that be a living space or a commercial space. 

So what about flats you might ask?

Well in terms of the wall separating two or more flats this is still called a Party Wall. 

So what about the floor/ceiling between flats you might ask?

Well, this all seems rather confusing, however even floors, ceilings between units of flats or other buildings, although not considered a Party Wall, they are defined as a Party Structure. 

So basically if you are considering structural or destructive works between units or flats that may affect the Party Wall or Party Structure, such as walls, ceilings, floors then these are all considered and included as part of the Party Wall act Act 1996.

So what do I need to do when I am considering works to my property?

You should ensure that you seek professional advice. At Dunham Hale Surveyors, we can assist in helping you to navigate this complex piece of legislation so that you are not put at undue risk when starting works.

What is involved in the process?

Firstly, we would need to see some drawings / plans of your proposed works and make a visit to your property to see if there are any onerous issues that need to be taken into consideration, once we are satisfied with the property we can then start the process of issuing notices to the adjoining owner (the owner or owners affected by your works).

I don’t wish to deal with the Party Wall and have a good relationship with my neighbour.

Irrespective if you have a good relationship with your neighbour, we would still advise you progress with the Party Wall process.

The reason we suggest this, is that before works start you may have a good relationship, however if you damage the neighbours property you may upset them or your relationship with them may break down as a result. This would then leave you at risk of them claiming off you for damages to their property.

In most cases, the best way is to ensure that you carry out works without risk. When building works are undertaken, there are always risks. For example, the foundations may need to be excavated deeper than originally anticipated, which may undermine your neighbours property, putting their property at risk. Unfortunately, no-one knows what the ground conditions are until excavations are started and the Party Wall process has contingencies to deal with this.

The Party Wall process is a protection to you and the adjoining owner in case of unforeseen issues that may arise during the works. 

Can I deal with the Party Wall process myself?

The simple answer is yes, on the understanding that you understand the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and are familiar with dealing with the various clauses and procedures needed. We at Dunham Hale Surveyors, feel that this is risky and can lead to issues further down the line if the procedure is not followed in line with the act.

Depending how you look at it, there is no correct answer. The easiest and lowest risk way is to leave the Party Wall process to an expert who has experience. At Dunham Hale Surveyors, we can help and deal with the whole process from start to finish.

I am the adjoining owner, and the building owner has started works without issuing notification to me. What can I do?

We would advise that you first approach them and kindly ask that they stop works immediately and start with formal notification to all adjoining owners under the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

If they require further advice, you can direct them to our website or ask them to call us for further advice. 

At Dunham Hale Surveyors, we are able to advice both the building owner and adjoining owner or owners on the Party Wall process before or during any works are underway.


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