Party Wall etc Act, 1996

If you are planning building work or alterations which involve:

  • Work on a wall, floor or ceiling shared with another property
  • building a freestanding wall or wall of a building up to or astride the boundary with a neighbouring property
  • excavations for deep foundations or within 6 m of an adjoining building

you are likely to find that the work falls within the scope of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, which came into force on the 1st July 1997.

The Act provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. It is based on some tried and tested provisions of the London building acts, which applied in inner London for many decades before the Act came into force.

Anyone intending to carry out work (anywhere in England and Wales) of the kinds described in the Act must give Adjoining Owners notice of their intentions.

This Act provides owners of buildings with certain new rights and obligations to other owners in relation to party walls and similar structures. At the same time it provides a framework for a disciplined approach to exercising these rights. There are provisions for compensation, for rights of entry and for the safeguarding of some existing easements.

The best way of settling any point of difference is by friendly discussion with your neighbour(s). Agreements must always be put in writing. If you cannot reach agreement with the Adjoining Owners, the next best thing is to agree with them on appointing what the Act calls an 'Agreed Surveyor' to draw up an 'Award'. The Agreed Surveyor should NOT be the same person that you intend to employ or have already engaged to supervise your building works. Alternatively each owner can appoint a surveyor to draw up the Award together.

In all cases, surveyors appointed under the dispute resolution procedure of the Act must consider the interests and rights of both owners and draw up an Award impartially. Their duty is to resolve matters in dispute in a fair and practical way.

We are Members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and would be happy to advise on the application of the Party Wall etc Act requirements

Work being carried out at the back of a terraced house

Terraced houses

Block of flats

Block of flats

Block of flats