The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

A building owner proposing to start work covered by the Act must give adjoining owners notice of their intentions in the way set down in the Act.

The Act is separate from obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval.

Examples of this type of work include:

  • Building a new wall
  • Cutting into a party wall (e.g. inserting a beam)
  • Making a party wall taller, shorter or deeper
  • Removing chimneys from a party wall
  • Knocking down and rebuilding a party wall

You must tell your neighbour if you want to:

  • Build on or at the boundary of your 2 properties
  • Work on an existing party wall or party structure
  • Dig below and near to the foundation level of their property

Once you’ve issued a notice, your neighbours can’t stop you from making changes to your property that are within the law, but they can affect how and when your works are carried out. Hence, the need for a Party Wall Award (Agreement).

If you do not notify your neighbour about these building works, they can get a court injunction to stop the work.

What you don’t need to tell them about

You don’t need to tell your neighbour about minor changes, eg plastering, adding or replacing electrical wiring or sockets, or drilling to put up shelves or cabinets.

If you can’t agree with your neighbour

You must appoint a surveyor if you and your neighbour can’t agree. You can appoint a surveyor together or each appoint your own. The surveyors will then agree on a ‘party wall award’.

This is a legal document which says:

  • What work should happen
  • How and when it will be carried out
  • Who will pay for which part and how much will be paid (including surveyor’s fees)

You can’t act as your own surveyor.