The unfortunately named ‘Party Wall’ is the wall you share with your neighbours, most commonly in semi-detached or terraced houses.
To work on or even near shared walls or boundaries, the Party Wall Act requires you to get your neighbour’s approval in writing, at which point you have what is known as a ‘party wall agreement’ or a 'party wall notice'.
To ensure this is formally binding party wall surveyors are usually employed with a party wall award provided to ensure you are covered to carry out the works. Do it right, and it’s not that complicated. Honest!
If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, the Party Wall Act doesn’t apply. Also, you don’t need your neighbour’s permission for DIY such as drilling, or cutting into the wall to insert a plug socket, although do check with a professional if unsure.
You’d definitely need a party wall agreement in that case. The most common cases are:
But there are other cases.
Building up to, or across, your boundary with your neighbour. If you want to build a garden wall along the boundary or put an extension on your house that comes as far as the boundary, you’ll need a party wall agreement.
The floors or ceilings separating flats are covered by the Party Wall Act too.
Yes. Not hedges and fences though.
You need a party wall agreement if you want to excavate within 3 metres of your neighbour’s property, and the work is as deep as their foundations.
You also need a party wall agreement if your excavations are within 6 metres, and your work would cross a 45° line from the bottom of their foundations towards your excavations. The government have provided a visual example for that as shown below:
That’s actually a good idea; I’ll draw pictures and you tell me if I need a party wall agreement
That is the recommendation; you’re far more likely to get an agreement if you’ve explained the work in person. Ideally, the party wall agreement will just be a quick follow-up to a conversation.
It’s really just a letter telling your neighbours about your plans. The trick is to deliver it at least two months before you intend to start work, and include the following details, or the notice will be invalid:
Some homeowners fail to serve a party wall notice to their neighbour(s) for various reasons, some of these include:
Whatever the reason may be, by not serving a party wall notice to your neighbour, they are fully entitled to take you to court for any infractions or damage caused.
Your defence is weakened by lack of party wall notice and award, with the possibilities of the legal fees falling on your lap. The benefits of serving a party wall notice and receiving a party wall award include:
It's not, just remember to include all of the above, and see a surveyor if you’re unsure. If tensions arise, you’ll save a lot of money and time by having a valid agreement!
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