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The Party Wall Act 1996 – what do you need to know?

In UK law, there are set measures in place to enable adjoining property owners to fully enjoy their property without undue disruption. One of these is The Party Wall Act Etc 1996.

Here, we look at the key facts around the Party Wall Act and what property owners need to know if they are considering undertaking any work where it may come into play.

Under what circumstances does the Party Wall Act apply?

The Party Wall Act covers three general areas of work:

• Building a new wall along the boundary between two properties
• Excavating within prescribed distances of shared or adjoining structures
• Altering an existing party structure

Works where the Act applies include building a new wall on or near the boundary, cutting into the shared wall, altering the height or depth of the shared wall, knocking it down and replacing it, taking out chimney breasts or digging below its foundations. Loft and basement conversions are also common types of home renovations where the Party Wall Act frequently applies.

What action should property owners take?

Before undertaking any of the works as outlined above, the property owner must seek consent from the adjoining owner(s). The law says the Notice must be given at least two months in advance, and should contain full details about the work including start date. Upon receiving the Notice, the adjoining neighbour will then have the chance to either agree or object.

What if there is a dispute?

If there’s a dispute, the law says everyone involved must either jointly appoint a Surveyor, or appoint their own Surveyors individually. The Surveyors will issue an Award – an agreement about the extent of the work, how it’ll be done and when. Any work that is undertaken that fails to comply with the rules can be stopped via an injunction.

Can I claim compensation for disruption?

The Party Wall Act not only applies to residential homes, it also applies to commercial premises. Property owners that suffer a quantifiable loss as a result of works covered by the Party Wall Act, for example if a business that operates in an adjoining property is hindered from undertaking work, may be eligible for compensation.

Lea Hough team can handle all Party Wall matters, from providing initial advice on whether the Act will be applicable to your proposed project, through to serving relevant Notices, preparing a Party Wall Award and a Schedule of Condition before works commence and undertaking inspections upon completion.

Surveyors in our team are Members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (MFPWS), with an extensive portfolio of experience working on a variety of Party Wall cases both locally in Lancashire and nationally.

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“We had a Schedule of Condition carried out on a Commercial Property. From vacant possession to our proposed completion date we were really tight on time. Gary managed to carry out the inspection and write a very thorough report in the time needed to ensure we hit our completion date. The price of the report was also extremely competitive. I would recommend Lea Hough to anyone looking for a Professional Surveyors with excellent service & communication at a competitive price.”

Danny Ambler - Fuse Contract Furniture, Blackburn