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Party Walls: A guide to keeping your neighbours happy

Everyone should feel safe and comfortable in their own home, but when planning building works that involve a shared wall it is important to manage the process correctly. Richmond Futures are experienced surveyors based here in Richmond – they understand all of your Party Wall needs and can offer guidance throughout this complex procedure. With them on hand you can rest assured that issues with neighbours will be dealt with professionally while still being respectful towards each other’s space.

Highlights

  • A shared structure between two properties.
  • Various forms: Type A (shared across boundaries) and Type B (occupies one owner’s side exclusively).
  • Owners can construct extra Party Walls for house extensions.
  • Introduced to promote construction while protecting Adjoining Owners.
  • Consent from neighbours needed for alterations; surveyors can help settle conflicts.
  • Common scenarios requiring notice: digging near a neighbor’s land, cutting into party walls, constructing along boundaries.
  • The Party Wall Notice is essential for construction near shared boundaries.

What is a Party Wall? 

A Party Wall is a shared structure between two properties and can come in many forms. For example, the most common type – Type A- is situated across boundaries of two neighbouring land or buildings owners; while its counterpart, Type B , occupies one owner’s side exclusively. Moreover, with necessary planning permission secured either neighbour has privileges to construct an extra Party Wall for their own house extensions purposes.

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996

On 1st July 1997 the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 was introduced to England and Wales in order to promote construction development while safeguarding those affected by it – known as Adjoining Owners or occupiers. Property owners must communicate their intentions for any alteration works with adjoining neighbours, obtaining consent before proceeding further; should there be conflict over this then recourse can be taken through appointing surveyors who provide a settlement ‘Award’ based on compliance with statutory regulations.

Many property development initiatives may require notification under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, though three of the most frequent are: digging excavations up to 3 meters away from a neighbour’s land for foundations; cutting into party walls to introduce steel or weathering details and constructing structures along boundaries or abutting them outright.

The Party Wall Notice process

At Richmond Futures, we understand that building works can be a stressful endeavour and with them come certain requirements. A Party Wall Notice is an essential document for those undertaking construction near their shared boundary or the property of another neighbour. Our experts are here to help make this process as simple and straightforward as possible by drawing up these notice documents on your behalf – so you may proceed with peace of mind knowing all necessary steps have been taken in due course.

Taking the time to talk through your plans with your neighbour prior to sending them a Party Wall Notice can be highly beneficial. Not only could it prevent any unwelcome surprises, but open communication and dialogue between yourself and those affected by your building works may also significantly increase their likelihood of agreeing – enabling you both to proceed smoothly.

Schedule of Condition

Avoid any construction-related disputes with your neighbour – safeguard yourself by having a surveyor conduct an inspection of their property and record its condition in the form of a Schedule of Condition, including clear photographs. This key step could help to prevent costly arguments later down the line when it comes time for building work.

Consulting with a surveyor before proposing any structural changes can ensure the surrounding properties are properly protected. A detailed report is created to show neighbouring property owners how their current condition and any existing damage, if applicable, will be documented at the start of construction – a useful point of reference for comparison later down the line.

Before any building works begin, a Schedule of Condition should be completed to determine who is liable in the event that damage arises. This will provide an unbiased point of reference for both you and your neighbour to clarify responsibility; moreover it gives everyone involved peace-of-mind knowing all potential issues are addressed from the outset.

Your neighbour has the right to dissent to the works you are proposing in your Party Wall Notice. If this happens, you are then deemed to be ‘in dispute’ under the Act. This dispute then needs to be resolved, either by an ‘Agreed Surveyor’ – a surveyor who, as the name suggests, has been agreed on by both the homeowner and the Adjoining Owner or, alternatively, by two separate surveyors, who will put in place a Party Wall Award.

Party Wall Award

When a Party Wall Notice is not agreed to, the official resolution that follows is termed a “Party Wall Award”. This document contains three critical components: an award detailing how works should progress, drawings exhibiting details of these proposed activities and photos accompanied by a Schedule of Condition for the adjoining property.

This document will provide a comprehensive look at the properties in question, including detailed information about their owners and surveyors.

Unless otherwise stated, the one who stands to gain from building works is responsible for covering associated Party Wall costs. This includes compensating surveyors representing both property owners involved in this process.

What happens upon the completion of the works

To ensure the utmost satisfaction of both parties, we highly recommend performing a Schedule of Condition to compare the pre-work state against post-completion. Doing so will help confirm that your Party Wall works have been completed in line with expectations and leave you neighbours feeling contented.

How Richmond Futures can help you

We are proud to have achieved a distinguished status of accreditation from the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors. This recognition highlights our expertise in this specialised field and reflects our commitment towards upholding the requirements set by The Party Wall etc Act 1996.

Our experienced team of accredited Party Wall professionals are here to help. If you have queries or want more information about the process, book a free 15 minute consultation with us at no obligation!

We would be delighted to discuss any questions or concerns you may have regarding properties and surveys.

Email us at info@richmondfutures.co.uk or give us a call on 02084 127 967 and one of our experienced surveyors will be happy to help you.