If you’re thinking about starting a renovation project or building work at your home, then the chances, you’ve probably heard the term ‘Party Wall Agreement’ flying around. But what is a Party Wall Agreement and do you need one?

What is a Party Wall Agreement?

In short, a Party Wall Agreement is a legal agreement made between you and your neighbours applying specifically to any building work occurring that affects either a shared wall, outbuilding or boundary. The Party Wall Act was introduced back in 1996, by way of allowing homeowners to carry out work on their houses while ensuring they protect their neighbours’ best interests at the same time. 

The Party Wall is generally the shared wall between a terrace or semi-detached house, that divides the homes of two separate owners. Walls between flats, as well as garden walls, apply too.

Most commonly, Party Wall Agreements are needed for building works that involve the likes of loft conversions and the digging of new foundations. Additionally, the effect of any excavations within three to six metres of the boundary can be covered by the Party Wall Act if the foundations are considered to likely have an impact on the adjoining neighbours (based on depth). Planning permission is not needed to serve a Party Wall notice.

It’s worth noting that minor works on the party wall, for example, plastering, electrical work and internal drilling to fit kitchen units or shelving will not require a party wall agreement. 

When should a Party Wall notice be served?

A Party Wall notice should be served at least two months before (and up to a year before) the proposed work is due to be carried out. Remember, the notice needs to be written. 

Before any building along the party wall begins, the homeowner must get a written Party Wall Agreement from all those affected – or in other words, adjoining owners.

What does a Party Wall notice include?

A Party Wall Agreement tends to include the following:

  • An outline of how the work is going to progress
  • Drawings of the proposed work
  • A schedule of regular checks to ensure compliance
  • The contact details of the neighbour’s surveyor (neighbour being the person who’s carrying out the renovation or building work)
  • Details of the neighbour’s surveyor’s fee 
  • Both addresses of those involved
  • The general working hours of the planned work
  • A time limit for the proposed work

What happens after a Party Wall notice is served?

After a Party Wall notice is served, the recipient has 14 days to respond, at which point, there are these possible outcomes:

  • The neighbour gives assent (or agrees) in writing, to work starting. In these cases, there is no need to appoint a Party Wall surveyor (although, to avoid future disputes some people choose to appoint a surveyor for peace of mind). However, our advice for homeowners who find themselves in this situation is to take dated photos of the Party Wall and ideally, have written and signed notes detailing any cracks or issues ahead of work starting. 
  • The neighbour dissents (disapproves), or doesn’t reply in 14 days. If this happens, both homeowner and neighbour can appoint one agreed surveyor – a surveyor who is impartial to them both. That surveyor will then produce a ‘Party Wall Award’ – more commonly known as a Party Wall Agreement – which details the proposed works and schedule, including pictures. It’s worth noting that your neighbour has the right to demand their own surveyor, which you have to pay for. And, if you still can’t reach an agreement, a further third surveyor might be required.

Are you planning a renovation? Contact the experts

Carrying out renovation work on your home can be stressful, but making sure you’ve got a Party Wall Agreement in place can help avoid any additional and unnecessary worries, as well as costs, as your project moves forward. With this in mind, it’s always best to get in touch with the experts at Keenan Project Designs before you get started, to ensure your project runs as smoothly as possible. 

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