An Overview: The Party Wall Act 1996
If you are thinking of carrying out building works to your property, the Party Wall Act may be something you need to consider as a preliminary step.
The Act has two purposes. It firstly gives the ‘building owner’ the right to carry out building works for example:-
- Building/demolishing a party wall or structure;
- Carrying out repairs to a party structure;
- Excavating a site up to 6 metres from neighbouring buildings.
It is important to note that the Act does not cover works such as drilling to fix plugs or erect wall unit or shelving; cutting into wall to add or replace electric wiring or sockets or; removing/replacing plaster.
Secondly, the Act provides a dispute resolution procedure to protect the interests of the ‘adjoining owner’. This is because building works can cause damage to an adjoining owner’s building and interrupt their enjoyment.
If you are the ‘building owner’, you have a statutory obligation to serve notice on the adjoining owner making clear of the intended works. Notice must be served even if you have planning permission or building regulations. The adjoining owner may consent to the proposed works, however, the adjoining owner can raise a dispute in response to the notice. This will trigger the dispute resolution procedure (s.10) and a requirement for a party wall surveyor to make an award.
The party wall surveyor’s award will resolve any matter that is connected to the works and is in dispute between the building owner and the adjoining owner including:-
- The building owner’s right to carry out the works;
- Time and manner in which the works are carried out;
- Erection of scaffolding;
- Access rights;
- Documents the original condition of the adjoining owners land in case the building owner’s work causes damage;
- Deciding who will pay the reasonable costs of the award which will include the surveyor’s costs.
An award is final and binding and may only be overturned by an appeal to the County Court within 14 days of the date of the award.
Richard Gordon of the Litigation department has dealt with several party wall disputes. Should you wish to speak about this further, Richard can be contacted on 01992 578 642.