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. The Act came into force on 1 July 1997 and applies throughout England and Wales (The Act does not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland). 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. Adjoining owners can agree or disagree with what is proposed. Where they disagree, the Act provides a mechanism for resolving disputes.
The Act is separate from obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval.
If you cannot reach agreement with the Adjoining Owners, the next best thing is to agree with them on appointing what the Act calls an “Agreed Surveyor” to draw up an “Award”. The surveyor must be a person agreed between the owners to act. Alternatively, each owner can appoint a surveyor to draw up the award together. The two appointed surveyors will select a third surveyor (who would be called in only if the two appointed surveyors cannot agree or either of the owners or either surveyor calls upon the third surveyor to make an award).
The term “surveyor” under the Act can include any person who is not a party to the matter. This means that you can appoint almost anyone you like to act in this capacity. However, the person should not have already been engaged to supervise the building work. The surveyor should also have a good knowledge of construction and of procedures under the Act. You cannot however act for yourself.
The surveyor (or surveyors) will settle the matter by making an “award” (also known as a “party wall award”).
If you are not sure whether the Act applies to the work that you are planning, you should seek professional advice. PWH will be happy to provide advice generally under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
This is a wall that is commonly shared between Owners.
Party Fence Wall
This is a dividing wall between the two properties that is not part of a building such as a garden wall, but it does not include a timber fence.
Party Fence Structure
This is a wider term, which could be a wall or partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings approached by separate staircases or entrances such as flats.
This is the person or company that is proposing to undertake the works and is either the freeholder or has a lease for longer than one year.
This is the person or company who is the freeholder or leaseholder of the adjoining property.
Party Wall Surveyor
This is the person that is appointed by the Building Owner or Adjoining Owner to resolve the dispute between the parties. (The parties being the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner)
It is usual to appoint surveyors who are experienced in the workings of the Act, and professional bodies that deal with this are given in part 6 of this guide.
Line of Junction
This is simply another name for boundary. It is the meeting point or junction of land or properties in different ownerships.