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What is a party wall surveyor? Well let’s start with the “party wall”. In general terms, a party wall is one that separates/divides buildings/properties of 2 or more owners. It is commonly found between semi-detached, and terraced houses, flats and retail and industrial buildings. It is also a reference to boundary walls built over the boundary line. This might include garden walls and also covers “Party Structures” – these include floors and ceiling between properties.

Party Wall Act etc

In the latest blog from Rupert Elliott Consulting Chartered Surveyors, party wall surveyors in London, Croydon, Kent and Surrey, we look at the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. We define a party wall, the typical works involved, the need for a Party Wall Agreement and how Rupert Elliott Consulting Chartered Surveyors can help you. If you are proposing to undertake work, or you have received a Party Wall Notice from your neighbour keep reading.

The criteria defining party wall matters.

Are you planning any building works to a party wall? If so you are obligated under The Party Wall etc. Act 1996, to let your neighbours and/or owners of a property know if any of the following criteria are relevant. 

  • There will be work on an existing wall (a wall that forms part of a building and stands on the land of different owners) or structure (including floors and ceilings separating spaces within a building between separate owners such as between flats) which is shared with another property.
  • A free-standing wall or the wall of a building is to be built astride the boundary with a neighbouring property.
  • Excavations are to take place near a neighbouring building. If excavation is undertaken within 3m or 6m of any part of a neighbouring property or Party Wall, the Act may apply. This could include a building owner constructing an extension within their land, away from the boundary, and for example the neighbouring property (attached or detached) being within 3m or 6m of the excavation. It may also include the permanent reduction of ground levels within these distances. Including for a patio or terrace, and may include the retaining walls of a neighbouring property.

Typical types of party wall building works.

Work could include those listed below. However you do not need to tell your neighbours if you are carrying out minor alterations. These include plastering, putting up shelves or replacing electrical wiring or sockets.

  • Fixing posts or columns to party walls
  • Increasing the height of a party wall to building a dormer loft conversion
  • Installing a beam to be supported by a party wall
  • Taking down part of a shared chimney or chimney breast removal from a party wall
  • Building a new wall for an extension near the boundary
  • Excavating below ground to lay foundations within 3m or 6m of a neighbouring property.
  • This may include underpinning existing foundations
  • Excavating for a basement
  • Removing a chimney breast of a flat below another flat
  • Repairs to a party wall such as a roof parapet wall, or a garden wall.

Matters need to be lawfully formalised before you proceed.

Before any building work can take place to the party wall, you will need a written Party Wall Agreement from any affected neighbours. Even though you have obtained Planning Consent & Building Regulation Approval from your local authority, it’s important to note that neighbour/owner agreement isn’t included. It is wholly your responsibility to obtain the Party Wall Agreement, officially known as a Party Wall Award and party wall agreement forms will need to be completed. 

The neighbour has a fixed timescale to respond. They may “consent” to the notice in which case you can then proceed. If consent is not forthcoming, you will be deemed to be in ‘dispute’ under the Act and it will be necessary to appoint surveyors. The surveyors will then agree to a “Party Wall Award”, also often referred to as a “Party Wall Agreement” which the neighbours are then legally obliged to abide by.  Failure to obtain a party wall award can lead to legal action taken against you by your neighbours for going ahead with work unlawfully.   

Beware the pitfalls!

Make sure your notices are correctly served.  It’s vital that the terminology is correct, such as – “Party Structure Notice”, “Notice of Adjacent Excavation”, “Line of Junction Notice”, “Special foundations” – if the notice is incorrectly served, everything after it will be invalid. 

The term “Party Wall Agreement” is misleading and does not formally exist. The correct term is “Party Wall Award” and it is an agreement between the surveyors, not the owners. The surveyors agree the works are lawful under the Act. It is not a negotiation. 

Party Wall surveyors (“Building Owners Surveyor”, “Adjoining Owners Surveyor”, “Agreed Surveyor”, Third Surveyor”) are obliged to work within the Act, they are not agents who can negotiate.

It can typically take 2- 12 weeks for matters to be resolved. Take this into account when planning your building work.

The surveyors costs are normally all paid by the Building Owner unless the works include repairs to a shared wall. 

If in doubt speak to a Party Wall Surveyor!

How Rupert Elliott Consulting has helped clients with party walls.

Rupert Elliott have acted as party wall surveyors in south London on several properties. This includes a house in Putney where a basement extension was to be constructed and a basement development in Fulham, which required the party wall to be underpinned. Works have also included party wall services in Chiswick, west London to a firewall, which was in poor condition. Several owners appointed Rupert Elliott Consulting as their party wall surveyors in Hampstead, north London when attached structures had to be demolished and excavation was required close to the party wall. 

How can Rupert Elliott Consulting help you with your party wall application?

We hope that now you have the knowledge of what is a party wall surveyor? and how they can help you.

If you are looking for party wall surveyors in south London, Guildford, Croydon, Fulham or Chiswick, Rupert Elliott Consulting is an independent Chartered Building Surveying Practice specialising in party wall surveying services to clients in London, Kent, and Surrey.

We offer a no-obligation initial consultation or a simple chat to find out how we can assist you and help with party wall agreement forms. Please call 01732 666795 or 07980 550941 or email bencollins@rupertelliott.co.uk

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