When is a Wall a Party Wall?   


Party Walls - what you need to know

Your building project may affect your neighbour's property. The law specifies how you inform them in advance and how to resolve any disputes.


If you're planning any building work that could affect your party or boundary walls, or if you're digging excavations near neighbouring buildings, you need to be aware of your requirements in law before you start work. Matters related to party walls are nothing to do with Local Authority Building Control (LABC) - but we're often asked about this, so here's what you need to know.

A 'Party Wall' is a legally recognised term for a wall that straddles the boundary between two or more properties or is used by two or more owners to separate their buildings. (Wooden fences and hedges are not party walls.)

The Party Wall Act provides a legal framework to prevent potential disputes between you and your neighbours over buildng work, and to resolve any issues that occur. It gives reassurance to your neighbours that you've considered the impact that your building work may have on them, and establishes a formal agreement between you before you start work.

In essence, you as the homeowner must give at least two months' notice to adjoining neighbours before starting any of the kinds of building work covered by the Party Wall Act. The Act also specifies how this notice should be given (in writing, with a full description of the proposed work and the start date, plus other details).

If a neighbour then objects to your proposed project, the Act should then provide a mechanism for resolving matters to everyone's satisfaction.

This explanatory booklet on the Party Way Act is a comprehensive guide to what you need to know and do. Further advice and guidance is available from the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS).

Note that the Party Wall Act is separate from planning permission and building regulations approval which your project may also require.


Types of building work covered by the Party Wall Act

See the explanatory booklet - and the Act itself - for full details of the kinds of building work covered by this legal framework.

This includes new building on or at boundary of two properties, work on an existing party wall or party structure - such as adjusting the height, or removing chimney breasts - and excavation near to and below the foundation level of neighbouring buildings.


'Party structures' in flats and apartments

The same law covers `party structures', such as a wall or floor partition that separates flats or other parts of a building under different ownership.

If you live in a flat or apartment block, there may also be restrictions on the type of work you can carry out. For example, by taking down a wall between your kitchen area and entrance hall you could compromise your means of escape in the event of a fire. Always ensure you consult the management committee for your flat or apartment block before starting work or seek the advice of a Party Wall Surveyor.


Guide to Extending your Home

Read our Guide to Extending your Home   




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