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A Party Wall is the wall that sits between, and is shared by two separate houses. By definition it is a feature of every terraced home.
The Party Wall Act, which was established in 1996, recognises two types of party wall:
Area above property is not a 'Party Wall'
The purpose of the Party Wall Act is to protect neighbours during building projects, and to provide a way of resolving any disputes that may arise related to the shared party wall. The types of work that are included are:
Converting a loft which includes cutting into boundary walls to support new beams
Inserting a damp-proof course
Increasing thickness, demolishing or rebuilding a party wall
As the building owner, it is your responsibility to serve notice to your neighbour that will be affected by your building project, however you can employ a Party Wall Surveyor to do this on your behalf (see below). There are four types of party wall notice:
Party Structure Notice: work on an existing party wall or structure
Line of Junction Notice
(new wall astride the boundary)
Line of Junction Notice
(new wall wholly on building owners land)
Excavation Works Notice: excavation near a neighbours building
When to serve the notices:
Often, more than one type of notice will have to be served. There are no formal requirements about how you should serve notice, however generally should include:
Name of all the owners of your property
A written description of the proposed works
Proposed plans for excavation works notice
Should your neighbours not have any objections to the proposed works, assent must be provided in writing by your neighbour. It is good practice to take dated pictures of the party wall prior to any works starting on site, with a simple written statement on the condition of the wall. A copy of this should be provided to your neighbour.
Party Wall Award
If your neighbour who has been served with a notice has an objection, or simply does not respond within 14 days, then a Party Wall Award will be required. If you have not already appointed a Party Wall Surveyor, you should do so at this stage.
The objection from your neighbour is served as a ‘counter-notice’ which outlines any changes they would like to your proposal. What generally follows is a period of negotiation until both parties are happy, following which a Party Wall Award can be formalised. Signed and witnessed copies are sent to both owners, and additional one should be provided to the contractor. This award typically includes:
Guidelines as to how the proposed works should progress
A ‘schedule of condition’ of the party wall which should include dated photographs
Drawings that lay out the details of the proposed work
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