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Confused about party wall agreements? Want to find out more about whether or not you need permission to do that DIY work? Here’s the information you need. Let’s get started…
You must tell your neighbour if your plans include:
In practice, common works that require a party wall agreement include:
You’re unlikely to need to go through the whole party wall agreement process when undertaking relatively minor works, such as:
Party wall agreements fall under the 1996 Party Wall Act.
The act came into force on 1 July 1997 and applies throughout England and Wales (it does not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland). Importantly, the act does not contain any provision that could be used to settle a boundary line dispute. Such disputes can be resolved through the courts or through alternative dispute resolution procedures, such as mediation, a decision by an independent expert, or arbitration.
What the Act does do is provide a framework for preventing or resolving disputes in relation to party walls, party structures, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.
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. The Act applies even to Crown, government and local authority owned property.
Where the intended work is to an existing party wall, a notice must be given, even where the work will not extend beyond the centre line of a party wall.
You’ll need to serve written legal notice to the owners of the adjoining home with which you share a party wall (as well as any other buildings affected by your proposed works) at least two months prior to starting work. When you’ve served notice, you have up to a year to begin work.
Your neighbour has 14 days to respond to the party wall notice. If they give their written consent, you both sign on your party wall agreement and you can begin your work.
In your formal written party wall notice you should include:
If your neighbour doesn’t respond to your party wall notice or you’re unable to reach an agreement with them on your own, then under section 10 of the Party Wall Act you’ll both need to appoint party wall surveyors.
The surveyors will prepare a party wall award that will outline the right to begin the work, how and when it will be carried out, and any other related issues. If the two properties in question are leaseholds, you must give notice to the building’s owners and the other tenants.
The cost of a party wall surveyor depends on where you are in the country and how much work they are required to do.
Most party wall surveyors will charge an hourly rate so the cost will depend upon what’s needed. For example, a party wall award involving several flats may cost more than an agreement between two neighbours in a semi-detached property. Party wall surveyor costs also depend on how many surveyors are involved. Ideally, you and your neighbours will use one party wall surveyor but sometimes each owner involved opts to have their own party wall surveyor. Naturally, this will increase the costs.
Usually, the owner who is planning the building work will be required to pay all the costs associated with drawing up the party wall agreement including paying the surveyor(s).
The exception to this is if the work being proposed is needed due to a defect or repairs. In this case, costs can be split between you and your neighbour. How much you each pay will depend on how much use you each have of the structure or wall concerned and which of you holds responsibility for the defect or repair. It will be down to the Party Wall Surveyor to decide who pays the fees.
The property information forms – which are completed by the seller as part of the conveyancing process – may include questions on the act, including whether there has been a dispute.
If you’re moving into a home whose previous owner had a party wall agreement with an adjoining neighbour, the 1996 Party Wall Act is not entirely clear on whether that agreement automatically transfers to you as the new homeowner. Your solicitor should be able to clarify your specific situation if this applies to you.
If you’re moving into a new home, you’ll need to know whether you’ve got any shared walls, fences, or boundaries with neighbours. Your agent should be able to tell you whether your new neighbours have any imminent construction projects planned and if any of these projects involve your shared party walls.
If your neighbour has issued a party wall agreement and you’re looking to move quickly, we can buy your home for cash. For more details, email us today or give us a call.