The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies where new construction or alterations to a property involve work to a shared (party) wall in a semi-detached or terraced building, construction up to the ‘line of junction’ between two properties and/or the installation of new foundations where these are deeper than those of the neighbouring property and within certain specified distances.
As the person carrying out the work (the ‘Building Owner’), there are legal obligations to serve appropriate notices on the Adjoining Owners and to follow the procedures of the Act before undertaking work covered by it.
As an Adjoining Owner served with any such notice you may agree to the works, appoint your own surveyor to resolve any disputes with the surveyor appointed by the Building Owner or you may agree to a single surveyor performing this function. Any surveyor appointed under the Act has a duty to behave impartially, irrespective of who is meeting their fees (normally the Building Owner).
The purpose of the Act is to enable building works to go ahead in a manner which does not compromise an adjoining property, whilst also providing a mechanism for the resolution of disputes in the unlikely event of damage being caused.
If you are intending to carry out works, you need to allow appropriate time for the procedures under the Act It is also very important to make sure that notices contain all the appropriate information and are served correctly, since rejection can delay the works and add to costs.
Christopher Stewart BSc FRICS has over 35 years’ experience throughout the area dealing with domestic and commercial property surveys and regularly accepts appointments under the Party Wall etc Act 1996. We are happy to discuss with you, without obligation, whether or not the Act applies to work you or your neighbours are proposing and can help you consider your legal rights and obligations under the Act.