What is a Party Wall Agreement?

Posted on: 2019-06-15

A party wall agreement is an agreement to document any building works with an neighbor of a shared boundary to prevent any disputes when the works are carried out.

What are Party Walls?

Also known as a “parti-wall”, “parting wall”, or “common wall”, a party wall is a shared partition that divides two adjoining buildings. This is usually a structural wall but can also be two abutting walls that were built at different times.

Some examples of party walls are:

  • Walls separating terraced or semi-detached houses.
  • Walls that form a boundary between two gardens (sometimes known as a “party fence wall”; not including wooden fences).
  • Walls that stand on one owner’s property but is used by adjacent owners to separate their buildings.

Do You Need a Party Wall Agreement?

Some areas require that you get a party wall permit before beginning any work – completing the form indicates that you’ve informed your neighbor about the work and that they are in agreement with it. Once approved, and undisputed, you can then get the permits you need for the work you want done.

When Do You Need a Party Wall Agreement?

A party wall agreement is necessary if you are doing any work to a wall separating properties such as removing a chimney piece or replacing structural components. You may also need an agreement if you are excavating or creating a new foundation within 3 meters of the dividing boundary as well as building a new wall on or at the boundary line where no wall currently exists.

How a Party Wall Agreement Works

To carry out works under a party wall agreement, you need to serve notice to your neighbors at least 2 months before the building works begin. This notice must be served to all neighbors that will be affected by the work.

You can pay a surveyor or other professional to serve the notice or you can fill out the proper documentation and serve it yourself.

Once the noticed is served, your neighbors have 14 days to respond. If they agree, you can begin work. If they don’t agree, or fail to respond, the matter goes into dispute.

If this happens, you should give them 10 days before notifying them that they need to appoint a party wall supervisor or you will appoint one on their behalf. If you appoint a surveyor, it must be a different one than the surveyor you are using for the work. Unfortunately, you are responsible for the surveyors’ fees.

When a surveyor is involved, they will record the existing condition of your neighbor’s property in case there is any damage to assess later on. They will also provide you with a party wall award that will detail the rules for your builder to follow. These rules may include when and how the work should be carried out as well as any additional work needed to protect your neighbor’s property.

After the two months from the day the agreement is served, the work can begin as long as the party wall award has been agreed by all surveyors. You have up to 12 months to begin the necessary work.

Avoiding Issues with Party Wall Agreements

You obviously want to avoid any disputes with your neighbors so, before serving them with a party wall notice, you should have a friendly chat with them regarding the work you plan on doing. At this point, you are giving them the courtesy of knowing and can work out any issues that may arise.

Have questions about party wall agreements? Feel free to contact us today!