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THE PARTY WALL PROCESS SUMMARISED:

The 'Party Wall etc. Act 1996' is an enabling piece of legislation, designed to resolve disputes and allow projects to proceed with building works.

Building works which usually fall under the Party Wall Act: building a new wall, rebuilding an existing party wall, excavation/digging for a foundation near a neighbour’s party wall, inserting a steel beam for a loft conversion, chimney breast removal, inserting a damp proof course, etc.

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Works covered by the Act include:

  • Cutting into a wall such as inserting a beam.
  • Inserting a damp proof course all the way through a wall.
  • Raising the entire party wall, including cutting off any parts of the adjoining owner’s building which would otherwise prevent this being carried out.
  • Demolishing and rebuilding the party wall.
  • Underpinning the whole or part of the wall.
  • Building a new wall on the line of junction between two properties.
  • Excavating foundations within three metres of an adjoining structure and to a lower depth than the adjoining structure.
  • Excavating foundations within six metres of an adjoining structure and below a line drawn at 45 degrees from the bottom of its’ foundations.
  • Where it is intended to build a new wall tight up to or astride the boundary line.

Serving Notices

Building works require a written ‘Notice’ to be served by or on behalf of the building owner.

The building owner must either receive written consent from the adjoining owner or settle any dissent or dispute by way of an award.

Surveyor Types

Both owners can agree on appointing one ‘agreed surveyor’ as this will speed up the resolution process and is more cost effective. Alternatively, each owner can appoint their own surveyor to resolve the dispute. Where two surveyors are appointed they must forthwith select a third surveyor.

Section One, Section Three & Section Six

A section one notice deals with new building on the line of junction (boundary line). Party structure notices are served under Section three and deal with works to an existing party wall, fence wall or party structure.

Section six notices deal with adjacent excavations, within three metres or six metres of the adjoining property. The notice is the mechanism by which the workings of the Act are engaged.

Section Ten – Dispute Resolution via an Award

Section ten provides the mechanism by which disputes are resolved. If a dispute has arisen, an award if prepared by a party wall surveyor and sets out the terms under which work can proceed. It is advisable for the adjoining owners surveyor to prepare a ‘Schedule of Condition’ before the works begin.

It is important that any surveyor appointed has a good working knowledge of the Party Wall Act, and a good knowledge of construction detailing and practice.

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